December 12: Here are five interesting takeaways from the Joburg Open.
121-year-old Shubhankar Sharma’s victory at the Joburg Open follows the trend of having young champions on the Asian Tour this year. 16 out of 27 tournament winners are under 30 years old. Even at 21 years and 143 days, he is the third youngest winner on Tour in 2017, after Micah Lauren Shin and Jazz Janewattananond.
2On a similar note, 23-year-old Gavin Green becomes the second youngest Asian Tour Order of Merit champion after opening up an unassailable lead following his tied-19th finish at the Joburg Open. Noh Seung-yul was 19 years old when he won the 2010 merit race.
3Evident from his recent results, Sharma tends to be in better form at the start and end of the year. After three top-10 finishes in January and February, he didn’t finish in the top-10 until November. Similarly, in 2016, he had two top-10s. One in February and another one in November.
4South African golfers have always done well at this tournament. Eight out of 12 champions are South African. If not for Sharma’s exploits at Randpark Golf Club, another South African, Erik Van Rooyen, would have won this year’s Joburg Open. Sharma is the first Asian player to lift the trophy.
5Thankfully, Monday finishes are few and far between in since 2004, when the Asian Tour was established. Including this year’s Joburg Open, there were only nine events that had to be extended for an extra day.