Rising star Shubhankar Sharma of India will play the blue-riband BNI Indonesia Masters next week as He brings down the curtain on an exceptional year that has taken him to the brink of becoming the Asian Tour’s new number one.
And He will be joined by his highly decorated countryman Airban Lahiri – a seven-time Asian Tour winner and the only Indian to claim the BNI Indonesian Masters, following his victory in 2014.
The eighth edition of the BNI Indonesian Masters presented by Bank Tabungan Negara (BTN), PT.Lautan Luas.Tbk and Bank Mandiri will be played from December 13-16 at its traditional home, Royale Jakarta Golf Club and features Major champions Justin Rose of England – the defending champion – and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson.
Sharma has enjoyed a groundbreaking 12 months in world golf including two victories and a top-10 finish in the WGC-Mexico Championship.
His achievements have seen him go top of the Habitat for Humanity Standings (Asian Tour moneylist) with earnings of US$755,994 and he holds a commanding lead over his nearest challengers with two events remaining.
The 22-year-old, who finished tied 11th last year, will relish the challenge of taking on two of the world’s best players and the cream of Asian golf as he looks to finish his season with a flourish.
“This year has been a huge learning curve for me. I’ve played in some of the biggest events I could ever imagine and learned a lot,” said Sharma, who competed in all four Majors.
“The BNI Indonesian Masters is one of the most prestigious events on the Asian Tour and I hope to play well and underscore my position as number one on the Habitat for Humanity Standings.”
Sharma’s breakthrough came at the end of last year with victory at the Joburg Open, a tri-sanctioned event between the Asian Tour, European Tour and Sunshine Tour. The tournament counted towards the 2017 season on the Asian Tour and the 2018 season on the European Tour.
He followed that up in spectacular style in early February with a closing 62 at Kuala Lumpur’s Saujana Golf and Country Club to win the joint sanctioned Maybank Championship by two strokes.
That victory saw him become only the third Indian after Jeev Mikha Singh and Lahiri to win two European Tour events in the same season and he went on to lift the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award – the first player from his country to achieve that accolade.
As well as his win at Malaysia, Sharma has three other top-10 finishes on the Asian Tour to his credit this season, the last being tied sixth at the Honma Hong Kong Open in November.
Lahiri will also start as one of the favorites at BNI Indonesian Masters next week. He currently plies his trade on the PGA Tour and has recorded 10 top-10 finishes since 2015. A year after winning the Indonesian Masters he took the game by storm in Asia claiming the Malaysian Open and Indian Open, both joint sanctioned with the European Tour, in February of 2015.
That year he also became the first Indian to finish in the top-five at a Major when he took a share of fifth place in the 2015 US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. And the popular Indian was named in the 2015 Presidents Cup squad – the first player from India to earn the honor.
“Shubhankar Sharma and Anirban Lahiri have given us a lot of joy with their performances both in Asia and around the world this season and we look forward to watching him play at the BNI Indonesian Masters,” said Jimmy Masrin, Founder of Indonesian Masters and Chairman of Asian Tour.
“They are huge talents and the Asian Tour is proud of their achievements and rise in the game.”
For the second straight year, Indonesian Masters will be the season-ending event on the Asian Tour with US$750,000 in prize money.
The tournament also forms the third leg of the 2018/19 Panasonic Swing, further adding to its pulling power. The Panasonic Swing is an aggregate points race that spans five events with Asian Tour players chasing a share of a lucrative bonus pool.