Sharmila Nicollet put her name in the golf’s history books by becoming the first professional golfer, male or female, to be ‘voted’ into a professional golf tournament. The 26-year-old six-foot tall golfer got an entry into the USD 1.5 million Shoprite Classic in New Jersey after garnered 39 per cent of the 27,652 votes polled globally on the social media platform Twitter.
The ShopRite Classic will be held June 2-5 on the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in Galloway Township.
While Sharmila will be given a sponsor’s spot into the event, India’s Aditi Ashok already has a limited status on LPGA and she is likely to make the start list, too. Aditi, two-time winner on Ladies European Tour in her Rookie season in 2016, has already played three LPGA events this season.
If Aditi also figures in the start list, it would mark the first time ever two Indians will feature in an LPGA event.
Sharmila, who has also played as a full member on the LET in the past, now has limited status on the same tour. She is one of the six Indians, lead by Aditi Ashok, who have playing rights in Europe.
Sharmila received 39 percent of the votes cast in the weeklong poll and she finished nine percentage points ahead of Golf Channel host Blair O’Neal. Scottish golfer Carly Booth was third with 25 percent, followed by Bolivia’s Susana Benavides with six percent.
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In the initial stages of the poll, Blair led the numbers, but over the last three-four days, boosted by the golf fraternity of India, Sharmila slowly but steadily surged ahead to win by a very comfortable margin.
The four golfers had been chosen from data compiled by MVPindex, which follows social media platforms of sports and entertainment figures.
Sharmila thanked her fans on Twitter and later she was overwhelmed by the support she got from fans and supporters. The media savyy golfer, who has nearly 358,000 followers, said in a statement, “I would like to thank the sponsors ShopRite for conceiving the brilliant idea of having fans vote their choice.”
“In a small way, the poll has helped boost awareness of the game in India, where it is still a niche sport.”