Dubai, Jan 25 (PTI) India's Shubhankar Sharma is raring to go at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic after a fine start to the year with a tied seventh place finish at the Abu Dhabi HSBC.
The 26-year-old Sharma, who has sponsored a group of young golfers from India to come and watch the USD 9 million Rolex Series, is looking forward to not only playing well, but also giving the youngsters a good look at a world class event.
As a part of the Shubhankar Sharma Foundation, he has been having events for juniors and this time decided to get a few to see the world stars in live action.
"Years ago I was excited and started dreaming when I saw the likes of Ernie Els at the European Tour events in India," said Sharma, who has taken care of the passage and stay.
"When these youngsters from India see the World No. 1 Rory McIlroy and others like Open champions, Shane Lowry, Francesco Molinari, and Ryder Cup hero Tommy Fleetwood in action they will be inspired and start dreaming. That's what I want from them and they will learn so much." Sharma will play the first two days with Jordan Smith and Thorbjorn Olesen. He had played alongside Olesen in the final round at Abu Dhabi, too.
Sharma, who has been in Top-7 at Abu Dhabi in last two years, has never had a Top-10 in Dubai, where he is playing for the sixth time in a row.
"The course, the facilities etc are so good here. I came a few days early before the Abu Dhabi event and practised in Dubai. I am very keen to do well and get off to a good start at the beginning of the year," he said.
Sharma also has his eyes on one of the 10 PGA Tour cards that will be available at the end of 2023 for players who are not otherwise exempt.
"That is a big incentive and for that I need a great start to the year and then build on it. Yet I am not thinking too far ahead and the focus is to go week by week and stick to process and routine," he added.
Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy, who is seeking a third win at Hero Dubai Desert Classic, found himself in the middle of an incident on the eve of the event.
Patrick Reed, who has joined LIV, reportedly tried to greet McIlroy at the range on Tuesday. When McIlroy did not respond, Reed reportedly ‘threw a tee’ in his direction, according to a Spanish website, which first reported the incident.
"Patrick came up to say hello and I didn't really want him to. From my recollection, that was it. I didn’t see a tee. I didn’t feel a tee. Obviously, someone else saw that. But it’s definitely a storm in a teacup," McIlroy said.
"I was busy working and sort of doing my practise, and I didn’t really feel the need to acknowledge him. So, I didn’t see a tee coming my direction at all, but apparently that’s what happened.
"And if roles were reversed and I’d have thrown that tee at him, I’d be expecting him to bring a lawsuit." McIlroy also said he received a subpoena from Reed’s lawyers on Christmas eve to appear as a witness in their case against the Golf Channel, Brandel Chamblee and the PGA Tour.
"I was subpoenaed by his lawyer on Christmas eve. I was trying to have a nice time with my family, and someone shows up on your doorstep and delivers that; you’re not going to take that well." The $9 million Hero Dubai Desert Classic is the second straight week of Rolex Series events on the DP World Tour. The winner walks away with $1.53 million and with important Ryder Cup points. PTI Cor ATK ATK