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Golf: Shubhankar hopes to end India’s drought

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Shubhankar Sharma remembers the March afternoon of 2018 when he fell six spots on the final day to relinquish his overnight lead and ended the Indian Open tied seventh with Stephen Gallacher. As the 27-year-old returns for another iteration of what he calls the fifth major, the memories — and lessons learned — are hard to subside.

Shubhankar Sharma(Getty Images)
Shubhankar Sharma(Getty Images)

“I remember it very well, even though that was a long time ago,” he said on Wednesday. Back then, Sharma entered the DLF Golf and Country Club on the back of a good week in Mexico where he had finished tied-ninth at the WGC Championships. This year, a tied-seventh in Singapore in the run up to the Indian Open has put him in the right mindspace. The parallels are uncanny, giving Sharma hope, belief, and an opportunity to reflect.

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Six years is a long time in sport, and it has seen him grow from a promising talent to the well-travelled golfer who has confidently and consistently rubbed shoulders with the best. Into his seventh season on the DP World Tour — formerly European Tour — Sharma finds himself at the critical intersection of experience and youth. There is a nuanced understanding of his game and body, his tee shots have become longer and sharper, his training is more regimented, and his playlist has gone from Tupac Shakur to ’80s rock.

There are, however, a few constants. His go-to hit, for instance, remains Dire Straits’ ‘Where do you think you are going?’ — a song that sounds more like an existential question. His close circle still is the same, as is the feeling he calls home each time he enters the Gurugram course.

“This is my second home. I spent my teenage years here and all my evenings were spent playing putting matches till the lights went out. I used to live five minutes down the road. I know Gurgaon like the back of my hand and I’ve seen this golf course literally from its inception,” he said.

“Mine has been a long journey, but the people that I draw energy from — my parents and people like Anirban Lahiri — have remained the same. I have been a pro for over a decade now and over the years I’ve just learned more about myself. Every year I’ve become a better player and a better person.”

While local knowledge will certainly help, it will all boil down to execution. Played on one of the most challenging and intimidating courses in the country, Indian Open has not had an Indian winner since 2017. Last 15 years have seen only two Indian winners — Anirban Lahiri (2015) and SSP Chawrasia (2016, 2017) while no Indian finished in top 10 last year.

Sharma insisted the course is not easy to tame. The roughs have become a lot thicker over the years and the overgrowth of trees makes the fairway look a lot narrower. The first challenge will be to hit the fairway, but the importance of approach shots can’t be undermined either.

“It is very tricky off the tee. Finding the fairways is very important here. Every aspect of your game — chipping, putting, hitting — will be tested here. Visually, it looks quite intimidating with all the grass and bushes around. The surface is not as hard as it was in 2017 which means you might have to hit slightly longer,” Sharma, who finished tied-13 here in 2023, explained.

“It is a test of being in the present. You can’t really think about what you’re going to do on the sixth hole when you haven’t even reached the fourth. Just look at the shot you want to hit, look at the landing area and try to bring out your best swing. Pick your places where you can make birdies. Every pin is tough here. Going for the pin here is not the best tactic. I can say I have the advantage of local knowledge but translating that into execution is the key.”

The field will also have the likes of Gaganjeet Bhullar and Lahiri in action while the next generation of India’s male golfers — Yuvraj Sandhu, Manu Gandas, Veer Ahlawat — will also tee up. “It is one of the strongest Indian fields ever assembled at the Indian Open. While we have not had an Indian winner for some time, I think this weekend, we will surely have a few in contention. I certainly want to be one of those,” Sharma said.

From: Ashish Magotra (English Content Management- New Delhi)

Sent: Wednesday, March 27, 2024 10:12 PM

To: HT Sports ; HT Online sports

Subject: Golf: Shubhankar hopes to end India’s drought (pls use online)

Suggested headline:

Golf: Shubhankar hopes to end India’s drought

Intro: The national Open has had only two Indian winners in last 15 years, an anomaly Shubhankar is hoping to correct this weekend

Shantanu Srivastava

sportsdesk@hindustantimes.com

Gurugram: Shubhankar Sharma remembers the March afternoon of 2018 when he fell six spots on the final day to relinquish his overnight lead and ended the Indian Open tied seventh with Stephen Gallacher. As the 27-year-old returns for another iteration of what he calls the fifth major, the memories — and lessons learned — are hard to subside.

“I remember it very well, even though that was a long time ago,” he said on Wednesday. Back then, Sharma entered the DLF Golf and Country Club on the back of a good week in Mexico where he had finished tied-ninth at the WGC Championships. This year, a tied-second in Singapore in the run up to the Indian Open has put him in the right mindspace. The parallels are uncanny, giving Sharma hope, belief, and an opportunity to reflect.

Six years is a long time in sport, and it has seen him grow from a promising talent to the well-travelled golfer who has confidently and consistently rubbed shoulders with the best. Into his seventh season on the DP World Tour — formerly European Tour — Sharma finds himself at the critical intersection of experience and youth. There is a nuanced understanding of his game and body, his tee shots have become longer and sharper, his training is more regimented, and his playlist has gone from Tupac Shakur to ’80s rock.

There are, however, a few constants. His go-to hit, for instance, remains Dire Straits’ ‘Where do you think you are going?’ — a song that sounds more like an existential question. His close circle still is the same, as is the feeling he calls home each time he enters the Gurugram course.

“This is my second home. I spent my teenage years here and all my evenings were spent playing putting matches till the lights went out. I used to live five minutes down the road. I know Gurgaon like the back of my hand and I’ve seen this golf course literally from its inception,” he said.

“Mine has been a long journey, but the people that I draw energy from — my parents and people like Anirban Lahiri — have remained the same. I have been a pro for over a decade now and over the years I’ve just learned more about myself. Every year I’ve become a better player and a better person.”

While local knowledge will certainly help, it will all boil down to execution. Played on one of the most challenging and intimidating courses in the country, Indian Open has not had an Indian winner since 2017. Last 15 years have seen only two Indian winners — Anirban Lahiri (2015) and SSP Chawrasia (2016, 2017) while no Indian finished in top 10 last year.

Sharma insisted the course is not easy to tame. The roughs have become a lot thicker over the years and the overgrowth of trees makes the fairway look a lot narrower. The first challenge will be to hit the fairway, but the importance of approach shots can’t be undermined either.

“It is very tricky off the tee. Finding the fairways is very important here. Every aspect of your game — chipping, putting, hitting — will be tested here. Visually, it looks quite intimidating with all the grass and bushes around. The surface is not as hard as it was in 2017 which means you might have to hit slightly longer,” Sharma, who finished tied-13 here in 2023, explained.

“It is a test of being in the present. You can’t really think about what you’re going to do on the sixth hole when you haven’t even reached the fourth. Just look at the shot you want to hit, look at the landing area and try to bring out your best swing. Pick your places where you can make birdies. Every pin is tough here. Going for the pin here is not the best tactic. I can say I have the advantage of local knowledge but translating that into execution is the key.”

The field will also have the likes of Gaganjeet Bhullar and Lahiri in action while the next generation of India’s male golfers — Yuvraj Sandhu, Manu Gandas, Veer Ahlawat — will also tee up. “It is one of the strongest Indian fields ever assembled at the Indian Open. While we have not had an Indian winner for some time, I think this weekend, we will surely have a few in contention. I certainly want to be one of those,” Sharma said.



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Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield’s missing daughter ‘at risk’ due to ‘previous threat of suicide,’ cops say

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The runaway daughter of Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield is believed to be “at risk” because of a “previous threat of suicide,” police have said. 16-year-old Mint Butterfield was reported missing earlier this week. The teen, who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, reportedly fled their mother’s home in Bolinas, California.

Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield’s missing daughter, Mint Butterfield, ‘at risk’ due to ‘previous threat of suicide,’ cops say (Marin County Sheriff's Office)
Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield’s missing daughter, Mint Butterfield, ‘at risk’ due to ‘previous threat of suicide,’ cops say (Marin County Sheriff’s Office)

Flickr founder Caterina Fake, Mint’s mom, alerted authorities after finding a letter they had left behind. It is believed Mint could have been on her way to San Francisco’s very dangerous Tenderloin District neighbourhood.

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“At this time, we have no information to believe that Mint was taken against their will. The Sheriff’s Office is considering Mint a voluntary-missing juvenile, who is “At- Risk” due to a reported previous threat of suicide,” a statement by the Marin’s County Sheriff’s office read.

How did Mint Butterfield leave the area?

Mint fled the house with a suitcase “during the night or early morning,” according to authorities. “Fake and Mint also share a home in San Francisco, and it is believed, based on statements from Fake, that Mint may have left for the Tenderloin District of San Francisco,” the statement says.

The sheriff’s office also noted that Mint did not have access to a phone or any kind of vehicle, so it is unclear how they left the area. The San Francisco Standard reported that Mint has a history of substance abuse. They had been living with their mother before they went missing. Mint was enrolled at a private school in the Napa area.

Mint was known for having frequently visited the Tenderloin area. The area is notorious for open-air drug markets, homelessness, and violent crimes.

“Marin County Deputies entered Mint into the Missing and Unidentified Persons System (MUPS) and sent out All Points Bulletin flyers to surrounding law enforcement agencies with a description and photograph of Mint,” the sheriff’s office said.

It added, “In collaboration with San Francisco Police Department, detectives from both agencies have attempted to find Mint, but have been unable to locate them.”

Mint’s father, Stewart, co-founded Slack back in 2013. He left the company after it was acquired by Salesforce for $28 billion in 2021.

The sheriff’s office has urged people with information on the incident or Mint’s whereabouts to contact the Marin County Sheriff’s Office at (415) 479-2311 or email tips@marinsheriff.org.

Discussing suicides can be triggering for some. However, suicides are preventable. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).



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KKR vs PBKS, IPL 2024: Catch all the action in images

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Published on Apr 27, 2024 12:11 AM IST

  • PBKS defeated KKR by eight wickets in their IPL 2024 fixture, on Friday at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

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Punjab Kings defeated Kolkata Knight Riders by eight wickets in their IPL 2024 fixture, at Eden Gardens.(PTI)
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Published on Apr 27, 2024 12:11 AM IST

Punjab Kings defeated Kolkata Knight Riders by eight wickets in their IPL 2024 fixture, at Eden Gardens.(PTI)

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Chasing 262, PBKS reached 262/2 in 18.4 overs, courtesy of an unbeaten ton by Jonny Bairstow. Bairstow smacked an unbeaten knock of 108* runs off 48 balls and Shashank slammed 68* off 28 deliveries.(AP)
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Published on Apr 27, 2024 12:11 AM IST

Chasing 262, PBKS reached 262/2 in 18.4 overs, courtesy of an unbeaten ton by Jonny Bairstow. Bairstow smacked an unbeaten knock of 108* runs off 48 balls and Shashank slammed 68* off 28 deliveries.(AP)

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For KKR's bowling department, Sunil Narine took a wicket.(PTI)
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Published on Apr 27, 2024 12:11 AM IST

For KKR’s bowling department, Sunil Narine took a wicket.(PTI)

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Initially, Phil Salt (71) and Narine (71) took KKR to 261/6 in 20 overs.(KKR-X)
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Published on Apr 27, 2024 12:11 AM IST

Initially, Phil Salt (71) and Narine (71) took KKR to 261/6 in 20 overs.(KKR-X)

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For PBKS' bowling department, Arshdeep Singh took two wickets.(ANI)
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Published on Apr 27, 2024 12:11 AM IST

For PBKS’ bowling department, Arshdeep Singh took two wickets.(ANI)



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UWW threatens to suspend WFI and India’s wrestlers too

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Ten days after sports ministry told the Delhi High Court that it will neither recognise nor provide any support to Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), United World Wrestling (UWW) has warned that government interference could lead to WFI being suspended again. This time, the suspension could extend to the wrestlers as well.

Nenad Lalovic during the ASOIF General Assembly earlier this month(Getty)
Nenad Lalovic during the ASOIF General Assembly earlier this month(Getty)

In a strongly-worded letter signed by UWW president Nenad Lalovic, wrestling’s global governing body has reiterated its determination to uphold WFI’s independence and autonomy.

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“We have been informed that the Wrestling Federation of India is once again threatened by your Ministry of Sports with the imposition of an ad hoc committee to oversee its affairs,” UWW wrote.

“In case any decision or order should be made against your federation, and a third party be designated to run the daily affairs of our sport in India in violation of the UWW Statutes, UWW would have no other option than to re-impose a temporary suspension of your federation until further notice, and which, this time, could maybe include your athletes.

This suspension would apply to the final Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament in May, and will certainly attract the attention of the IOC on this matter, who may also consider further action,” UWW noted.

On Wednesday, a day before UWW’s letter, WFI appointed the Athletes Commission in accordance with the world body’s demand. Former Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Narsingh Yadav was elected chairman of the commission.

Ban lifted in February

UWW had placed the WFI under provisional suspension in August 2023 after WFI’s continued delay in holding elections. The ban was lifted this February. A month later, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) reinstated WFI and dissolved the three-member ad hoc committee constituted to run the sport.

WFI, however, continues to remain under suspension since last December by the ministry. Earlier this month, the ministry told the Delhi High Court that it might review the suspension only after there is visible improvement in WFI’s governance.

The ministry, in the affidavit filed through standing counsel Anil Soni, added that it would treat any national championships or competitions organised by WFI as unsanctioned and unrecognised. The Sanjay Singh-led WFI has held national championships as well as selection trials for the Olympic qualifiers.

“It is further submitted that the Ministry is continuously monitoring the governance of the WFI and at present does not deem it appropriate at this stage to review its decision dated 24/12/2023. Any review will be undertaken only after marked and visible improvement its governance, demonstration of compliance of UWW’s order and IOA’s order dated 18.03.2024 and steps taken Expiry Date 15/03/2025 WFI with regard to its democratic functioning, adherence to the Government guidelines aiming towards good governance practices including grievance redressal mechanism and safety of wrestlers,” the ministry had told the court.

In an earlier hearing this month, the court had considered setting up an ad hoc committee for running WFI.

“UWW’s letter must be taken very seriously. WFI is an autonomous body and there is no need for ministry’s suspension or interference,” Sanjay Singh said.

“The fact that UWW’s ban may extend to the wrestlers is a first in our history. The government must allow us to function independently,” a senior WFI official said.

While WFI continues to grapple with the government, Indian wrestlers’ performance has been a major cause of concern. At the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in Bishkek last week, Indian bagged quotas through Vinesh Phogat (50kg), Anshu Malik, (57kg) and Reetika (76kg), adding to Antim Panghal’s 53kg berth. The male wrestlers, both freestyle and Greco Roman, drew a blank.



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