Hero Indian Open 2018 – Day 2 – Fearless Sharma Stakes His Claim

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Indian Shatters Course Record To Remain Within Four Strokes Off Leader Emiliano Grillo of Argentina

Shubhankar Sharma

NEW DELHI, INDIA – MARCH 09: Shubhankar Sharma of India celebrates a birdie putt on the 17th green during day two of the Hero Indian Open at Dlf Golf and Country Club on March 9, 2018 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Local favourite Shubhankar Sharma displayed an aggressive brand of golf to break the course record and move into contention after Round 2 of the US$ 1.75 million Hero Indian Open.

Sharma, who was in the news for receiving a Masters invite, grabbed second place behind overnight leader Emiliano Grillo of Argentina (68) with an 8-under 64 at the demanding DLF Golf & Country Club in Gurgaon. With the score, Sharma went past Malaysian Gavin Green’s tally of 7-under 65 posted in the last edition of the European Tour and Asian Tour co-sanctioned event.

Sharma, the Race to Dubai and Habitat for Humanity Standings leader, was the biggest mover on the tournament leaderboard after finishing the opening round in tied 53rd place with a score of 1-over 73. He carded 13-under par in the last 27 holes after 5-over par in the opening 9 holes.

The Panchkula-based golfer lit up a gloomy day for Indians with 2-time defending champion SSP Chawrasia (77), PGA Tour winner Arjun Atwal (77) and 3-time Asian Tour champion in 2017, Shiv Kapur, set to miss the weekend rounds with the cut most likely to be applied at 3-over par.

3 groups are yet to finish Round 2 and will resume at 7.00am (local time) on Saturday with Round 3 scheduled to begin at 9.30 am.

15 Indians had made the cut at the last edition of the Hero Indian Open, with 9 from the country set to make the weekend rounds this time. In the US$ 400,000 Panasonic Open India at Delhi Golf Club, 49 Indian pros had made the cut.

“Today’s round will definitely rank up there as one of my most significant achievements, especially when it is played at this course. This is a tough course and it is not easy to go low here. I’m very happy with the way I played. I shot a few low numbers in my career and this one is right in my top five,” Sharma told Golf Digest after holing a 10-feet birdie on the 18th to the thunderous applause of home fans.

Also read: Golf Digest India exclusive – Interview with Shubhankar Sharma

“I know I had to get a good start. I normally try to do as best as I can on the front nine. I did my best, but it was still 2-under-par. But I was hitting it well, even though the back nine is tougher than the front nine, I knew I could still make birdies.

If you told me I would be 7-under-par going into the weekend after being five-over-par on my opening nine holes (10th to 18th) yesterday, I would have laughed it off. To be able to bounce back is really important, I knew I was playing well and I had to push myself a little. In the morning, I told myself that I have momentum on my side. I just need to foot on the pedal and keep on going.

My highlights are all from the back nine. My second shot on the 10th, which landed about a foot from the hole, started it all. That was a very tough pin. The birdie putt on the 12th hole was huge as well… I knew the course record is 7-under-par. To hold the record on my home course means a lot to me. That was why, I decided to go for the green.” Shubhankar Sharma (INDIA)

On his strategy for the next two rounds, the 21-year-old said: “I’m just going to play the way that I’ve always been playing. I’m just going to have fun. I know I’m playing well and I have nothing to lose.”

3-time Hero Indian Open winner Jyoti Randhawa (even par through 15 holes), best-placed Indian after the opening round – Ajeetesh Sandhu (76) – and PGA Tour regular Anirban Lahiri (73) added some joy to the home crowd after making the cut.

Teenagers Kshitij Naveed Kaul (amateur; 2-over 146) and Karandeep Kocchar (3-over 147) sneaked to the final two rounds.

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