Dubai: Five Indians are in the top 200 of the world golf rankings for the first time ever.
Shubhankar Sharma jumped from 193rd to a career best 72nd after winning the Maybank Championship in Malaysia on Sunday.
It’s his second win on the European Tour this season and sees him lead the Race to Dubai rankings after earlier winning the Joburg Open in December.
In just over two months he has now jumped from World No. 462 to become the fourth highest-ranked Indian ever behind Jeev Milkha Singh (who reached a career best of World No. 28 in 2009), Anirban Lahiri (whose best ever ranking is 33rd in 2015) and Jyoti Randhawa (whose personal best is 70th from 2008).
At 21, he’s also the youngest Indian to have reached that high in the rankings and the current highest ranked Indian.
Anirban Lahiri is currently 76th followed by Gaganjeet Bhullar (155th), Shiv Kapur (192nd) and Ajeetesh Sandhu (199th).
There have previously only ever been two Indians in the top-200 at any time, with Singh and Randhawa occupying the top-200 in 2008/09 and Singh and Bhullar doing it in late 2012.
Only seven countries have more players in the top 200 than India at present, they are; the USA (76), England (22), South Africa (12), South Korea (12), Australia (11), Japan (10) and Spain (seven).
Also, after Sharma, only three other European Tour members have won twice in their first 20 events and they were; Luke Donald, Jon Rahm and Jeunghun Wang.
Reacting to Sharma’s Malaysia win, Jeev Milkha Singh, who is the Indian record for highest position in the world rankings, wrote in his Hindustan Times column: “The sky is the limit for Shubhankar and he will keep pushing the boundaries, but more than that he is an inspiration for youngsters.
“If I can turn the clock back and say that if Jeev Milkha Singh could achieve a world ranking of 28 (in 2009), so can a young aspirant.
“Belief has seen Shubhankar this far and many more milestones lie ahead but he needs to stay grounded and surround himself with the right people. Doing so will help him rebound quicker as setbacks are part of life.”