2018 HSBC Champions

Words by BGB
BANGKOK, Thailand: India’s Shubhankar Sharma is determined to become the second Asian player to win the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions when the US$10 million event starts at the Sheshan International Golf Club on Thursday.

Sharma’s best finish at a WGC event was in Mexico early in the year where he led for two rounds before settling for an eventual tied-ninth place.

The Indian believes he is close to rediscovering the form that led him to two wins on the Asian Tour and is capable of following the footsteps of Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, who lifted the coveted Old Tom Morris Cup in 2016.

Compatriot Gaganjeet Bhullar, who has also enjoyed a standout season so far, is ready to stamp his mark at the Shanghai showpiece.

Bhullar is the only Indian to have won nine times on the Asian Tour and is feeling confident ahead of the exciting contest which will also feature five of the world’s top six golfers in the elite 78-man field.

Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat will have another opportunity to create an impression on the world stage, having enjoyed two top-five finishes in his previous two WGC events in Mexico and the United States this year.

Ranked 41st in the world, Kiradech is the first Thai to earn a PGA TOUR card and is hopeful of playing to his true potential when the year’s final WGC event gets underway.

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This is Sharma’s first appearance at the WGC-HSBC Champions. He is a two-time Asian Tour winner and currently leads the Habitat for Humanity Standings with a season’s haul of US$695,994.

Sharma will fly the Indian flag together with Gaganjeet Bhullar this week.

Sharma won his first Asian Tour title at the Joburg Open in South Africa last December and went on to claim his second victory two months later in Malaysia.

He finished tied-ninth at the World Golf Championships in Mexico, where he led in the second and third rounds.

He shared the third round lead in Malaysia a fortnight ago but had to settle for tied-10th place following a 72 in the final round.

Sharma played in all four Major championships this year, following the footsteps of Jeev Milkha Singh in 2007 and Anirban Lahiri in 2015 and 2016. He is the youngest Indian to do so. His fine performances this year did not go unnoticed as he was awarded the prestigious Arjuna Award from the President of India last month.

Bhullar is the only Indian to win nine times on the Asian Tour following his victory in Fiji in August.

In his nine Asian Tour victories, Bhullar has won in Indonesia (three times), Thailand, Chinese Taipei (twice), Macao, Korea and Fiji. He has yet to win in China.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat is the first Thai to earn a PGA TOUR card.

His season has been highlighted by a couple of impressive top-five finishes at the WGC-Mexico Championship and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

The 2013 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion has also enjoyed two other top-15s at the Memorial Tournament and U.S. Open.
Earlier this year Kiradech won his third Asian Tour title at the 2018 ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth.

The Asian Tour will be well represented by 14 members at the WGC-HSBC Champions and they include India’s Shubhankar Sharma and Gaganjeet Bhullar, Korea’s Sanghyun Park, Zimbabwean Scott Vincent, South Africa’s Justin Harding, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Americans Sihwan Kim and Catlin, Australia’s Jason Norris, Japan’s Yuta Ikeda, England’s Matt Wallace as well as China’s Xiao Bowen, Liang Wenchong and Liu Yanwei.

At 21, China’s Liu Yanwei is the youngest competitor while England’s Ian Poulter is the oldest at 42.