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Golfer Shubhankar Sharma jumps to joint lead, eyes 3rd European Tour title of season

Only a double bogey on the 17th hole prevented Shubhankar Sharma from taking sole lead after three rounds in the Indian Open golf. He is tied at the top with Briton Matt Wallace.

other sports Updated: Mar 10, 2018 21:09 IST
Hindustan Times, Gurgaon
Shubhankar Sharma,European Tour,Indian Open
Golfer Shubhankar Sharma is in tied lead at the Indian Open in Gurgaon on Saturday.(USA Today Sports)

Tied for the lead with Shubhankar Sharma in the Hero Indian Open at seven-under 209, Matt Wallace made birdie on the 17th, but the Englishman echoed the sentiment that prevailed at the DLF Golf and Country Club on the penultimate day on Saturday.

“The 17th was brutal. All of us approached (played) it differently but landed in trouble,” he said. Shubhankar was one of them, and though he ended his round with a birdie, but for the double bogey on the 17th, the sole lead could have been his.

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Why the 17, every hole was a double bogey waiting to happen, according to Wallace. There was no one better to affirm that than Emiliano Grillo.

Equalling the course record on the first day with a seven-under 65, and starting with a four-shot lead on Saturday, the Argentine shot a 78 to fall behind.

Wind picks up

At the start of the week, there was talk of the wind playing a part in making a demanding course tougher. After two relatively calm days, the wind caught on, and that it swirled put added pressure on the players, already under strain by the tees being pushed back and tough pin positions.

For one familiar with what to expect here, Shubhankar admitted he had never played from the back tees. Perhaps this was why on being asked who would be his key competitors, the reply was, “What rivals? The course is your biggest opponent.”

READ | Shubhankar Sharma, after course record at Indian Open golf, should aim higher

With “no birdie holes on offer”, it was a “mixed bag”, and the round of even-par 72 was accepted gratefully. “I kept telling my caddy that this isn’t a golf course that can be overpowered and the guy who accepts his mistakes and moves on will do well (win),” he said.

Hitting bunker wall

Despite the stiff test of his skill, Shubhankar landed on the 17th tee box a satisfied man, proud that he had bounced back every time he made bogey, which was on three holes. The intent was to go for the pin on the 17th but instead he found the wall of the bunker and from there the hazard.

Trailing Wallace by a shot, it needed a cool head to bounce back and patience is one of the attributes Shubhankar’s picked up while learning his golf.

The birdie brought him on a par with Wallace, and going into Sunday he would fancy his chances, knowing that the crowd would be behind him. He would also be drawing from the experience of playing the leader group at last week’s WGC-Mexico Championship. “Attention brings the best out of me as I’ve never been camera shy,” he said.

READ | Sizzling Shubhankar Sharma sinks course record in Indian Open golf

A third European Tour title of the season beckons.

Leaderboard

209: Matt Wallace (69, 70, 70); Shubhankar Sharma (73, 64, 72)

210: Stephen Gallacher (72, 71, 67)

211: Matthias Schwab (71, 72, 68); Andrew Johnston (72, 66, 73); Emiliano Grillo (65, 68, 78)

212: Sihwan Kim (70, 70, 72); Pablo Larrazabal (67, 71, 74)

First Published: Mar 10, 2018 20:37 IST