Tennis buff Kartik Sharma has big dreams in golf

Kartik Sharma breathed tennis till he was 11, and envisaged a career in it, but fate had other plans. Throwing glances as he walked past the five-hole golf course in Nabha (Punjab) every day, where father Sunil Sharma was posted as an Army officer, impacted the impressionable mind. There was the occasional round of golf too, but nothing to suggest the 18-year-old would go on to become the second Indian (after Rayhan Thomas in 2017) to play the Junior Presidents Cup at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club from December 8-9.

Kartik’s training partner in tennis was Roopak, but when the elder brother stopped to prepare for his engineering entrance examinations, Kartik found himself at a loose end. Nowhere to go, he turned to golf. He was 11 and by now the family had shifted to Mathura. Training at the nine-hole course, Kartik’s instincts as a sportsman took over and helped him make rapid strides on the Indian Golf Union’s (IGU) junior circuit. In his fourth start, he won an under-13 event in Bengaluru.

By now, the tennis dream was flickering and when the family decided Kartik wasn’t mature enough to join a residential academy in Delhi, it died, and golf came to stay. Roopak, who passed out of IIT (Delhi) as a mechanical engineer and is preparing for the Civil Services, has been a firm support, reading up and keeping Kartik, now based in Gurugram, abreast of the latest in golf. His inputs and lessons by coach Anitya Chand have helped and the list of achievements have grown quickly—four wins on the amateur circuit in two years, including the New South Wales Men’s Championship in January, preceded by a victory in a U-18 tournament as a 15-year-old.

Jr Presidents Cup

While Kartik awaited the letter from non-playing captain Stuart Appleby inviting him to be a part of the International team to take on the Americans at Melbourne, it’s the selection process for the Junior Presidents Cup he is immensely proud of. It started in January when the top-25 on the World Amateur Golf Rankings, under-21 and not attending college, were shortlisted. In early September, the list was pruned and the top-12 made the team with Kartik fourth on the standings.

Kartik plans to turn professional at the start of 2020 and will travel to Thailand and Japan for the qualifying school of the Asian and Japan Tours, besides the Professional Golf Tour of India’s Q-School.

His brush with pro golf is nothing to write about—in five appearances he has not made cut once, but that does not rankle. The transition from amateur to professional golf is often termed a big leap, but not for Kartik. “It’s a perception; nothing changes as far as I am concerned. You still have to hole the putt to do well.”

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