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Tuesday, 19 March 2019
Shubhankar Sharma  (Getty Images)
Shubhankar Sharma (Getty Images)

Defending champion Shubhankar Sharma believes winning surroundings at the Maybank Championship can kickstart his 2019 season following a hugely successful rookie campaign last year.

Sharma triumphed at the Joburg Open in December 2017 before winning this event for the biggest victory of his career to date with a stunning final round 62, which helped him to 28th place in the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex.

He cemented his status as Indian golf’s new rising star by playing in all four Major Championships and impressing on his World Golf Championships debut, leading the world-class WGC-Mexico Championship field by two shots going into the final round before posting an impressive top ten finish.

The 22-year-old also claimed the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award and Sharma believes those experiences can help him regain his those lofty heights once again, starting at Saujana Golf & Country Club this week.

It was my biggest win and a very special win - Shubhankar Sharma

"I definitely feel like I've become a better player from last year," Sharma said. "Obviously I have more experience. I've played some of the biggest events in the world, I played in all of the Majors last year. 

"In two of those Majors I was actually playing in front of Tiger, so the biggest crowds I have ever seen. It's good that I've seen all of those situations.

"I'm much more relaxed now, but you don't want to get too relaxed when you are playing. These are some of the best players in the world and you have to be 100 per cent, but I'll definitely be more comfortable than I was last year playing in the marquee group.

"I have great memories from this course. In fact, almost a year ago I was sitting in the same seat here when I had won and did my press conference. It was my biggest win and a very special win.

"It's very special to come back and I'll do my best to defend the title this week."

A tied for sixth at the season-opening Honma Hong Kong Open presented by Amundi looked set to continue his fine vein of form into the 2019 campaign and, despite struggling in the following weeks, Sharma is remaining optimistic for the rest of the year.

"Golf is a precision sport and there are small things, if you don't do them right can put you off. A few things haven't clicked for me this year but I haven't felt like I've been playing bad.

"I have good memories from this place so hopefully I can kickstart from that. That's what I did last year. I didn't have a great start and then I won Maybank and everything changed.

"It's always tough to follow a year like I had last year. Just to be more consistent really I played really well last year, but I had a patch where I didn't really finish well. This year I expect more consistency."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1HEND, ScottAUS18-15
2ELVIRA, NachoESP18-15
3JANEWATTANANOND, JazzTHA18-13
4VEERMAN, JohannesUSA18-12
T5FISHER, OliverENG18-11
T5KIEFFER, MaximilianGER18-11

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