Shubhankar Sharma has already attracted a lot of attention at the Augusta National Masters in Georgia, US, and it may just increase because he has been paired with two locals, Larry Mize, 59, winner of the tournament’s 1987 edition, and Russell Henley, 29. At 21, Sharma, the youngest competitor, could see and learn a lot about the Masters. Given the presence of the two Georgians, there will be a sizeable crowd following Sharma too. Edited excerpts of an interview with him:

Did you ever think you would be teeing off at the Augusta National?

I always dreamt of playing here, but to be honest I was very surprised when I got the invitation.

What does it feel like to represent the future of Indian golf?

Yeah, it means a great deal to me. I feel that if I can inspire kids back home in any way, it will definitely be a great thing. (After Mexico) I went back for the Indian Open, I had so many kids and their parents coming up to me and congratulating me.

You often meditate during a round. Tell us something about that.

Meditating has really helped me. I have always been very, very calm on the course, even though I’m very different off it. I think you have to be in a monk-like state for 5 hours.

My mom has been instrumental in putting me on the path of meditation, even though I don’t do it as much as she would like me to. I try and concentrate on my breath, soak in the moment and try to be present in the moment.

Can you describe your first memory of the Masters?

I think the earliest memory is probably 2007. I watched Zach Johnson win. And (in) 2005, when Tiger Woods won, I was playing golf but I wasn’t really aware of golf that much that I would watch all the Major championships; I was still trying to grasp how the game and the PGA Tour worked. Now, I have pretty much watched the videos of most of the Masters on YouTube.

Do you recall the first time that your dad and you spoke about the Masters ?

I would say, again, between 2005 and 2007, I don’t really remember the first time we actually spoke about the Masters. Both of us were very new into the game. We did not know much about it.

How did it feel when you came through the Magnolia drive?

Obviously, getting to Magnolia lane was great. I made a video of it. You just take a ride from the main road, and the Magnolia road is right in front of you. And I had imagined all these years going on the Magnolia lane and driving through it, so it was definitely a great experience.

You have talked about Woods’ effect on your career. Have you had a chance to meet him this week?

I saw his bag (just outside the clubhouse) in the morning today (Tuesday). So that’s the closest I’ve gotten to him. If he is not busy, I’ll go and say hi and speak to him. Arjun Atwal is a good friend of his, and he told me just go up and say hi to him and he’ll be nice.

Will you be nervous or fanboyish?

A little bit. With Tiger, I think everyone can be like a fanboy. When I was in Dubai, I saw Rory (McIlroy) and Dustin (Johnson) and all these guys, and I’m sharing the same locker room with them, so that was very, very special. Then I played with Phil (Mickelson). But Tiger has a different aura about him; how he dominated the world of golf is something. Yeah, so it definitely will be a fanboy moment for me when I go and say hi to him.

V. Krishnaswamy tweets at @Swinging_swamy

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