The ISPS Handa Melbourne World Cup of Golf will feature two-man teams from the top 28 nations based on the Official World Golf Ranking. The 59th edition of the event will see the 56-player field vie for the US$ 7 million prize money on offer. India had qualified for the event on the basis of the world rankings on September 4.
The 22-year-old Shubhankar Sharma, India’s highest ranked golfer at 107, committed for the event and thus became one of the first 28 players to be named by tournament officials on September 14. Shubhankar, who enjoyed great success on the European Tour this season courtesy two wins, will be making his debut at the prestigious event.
Shubhankar, also the current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader, has picked 31-year-old PGA Tour regular Anirban Lahiri as his partner for the World Cup.
Lahiri, currently the second-highest ranked Indian in the world at 110, will be making his second appearance at the event. Anirban, a two-time European Tour winner and a former Asia No. 1, had last played the World Cup in 2013 when he partnered Gaganjeet Bhullar. Lahiri has enjoyed a decent season on the PGA Tour thanks to four top-10 finishes.
An excited Shubhankar said, “It’s my privilege to represent my country in the forthcoming World Cup of Golf in Melbourne. In Anirban, I will have a great partner and senior to guide us through the grind of the event and hopefully win it for us.
“Since the start of the year, I made this event as one of my goals as it has so much history, tradition and a wonderful list of past champions,” added Shubhankar, who played all four Majors this year and also posted two top-20s on the PGA Tour.
Anirban, who has previously also taken part in other esteemed team events such as the Presidents Cup, the Olympics and the EurAsia Cup, said, “I’m very excited to be pairing up with Shubhankar. He’s a special talent and a dear friend so obviously it’s going to be a lot of fun. We both have the capability to bring back the trophy if we can play to our abilities.
“Representing the country is extremely special and a great honour. It’s the first time for me playing the World Cup as a team event so I’m really looking forward to the team competition. I feel like it brings out the best in me. Hopefully, we can have a good run in Melbourne this year.”
Uttam Singh Mundy, CEO, PGTI, said, “Shubhankar and Anirban make a formidable World Cup team for India. While Shubhankar has enjoyed great success on the international stage in 2018, Anirban has held his own on the PGA Tour with some top-notch performances this season. We wish them all the best.”
India’s best performance came in 2005 when the pair of Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa secured a creditable ninth place finish.