Indian Open: Shubhankar in joint lead

Shubhankar’s par-round helps share lead with Wallace; only nine manage sub-par cards.

Matt Wallace was the only player from the top-seven three-man groups to manage a sub-par card.   -  Special Arrangement

After two rounds that witnessed course-records, the 7379-yard DLF Golf and Country Club course finally took its revenge.

In tough, windy conditions, only nine out of 67 golfers managed to break par even as Shubhankar Sharma’s par-round proved enough to give him joint-lead going into Sunday’s final round of the USD 1.75 million Hero Indian Open here.

Barring the other leader Matt Wallace (two-under 70), none from the top-seven three-man groups managed a sub-par card! As a result, after leading by turns, the duo shared the lead at seven-under 209, a shot ahead of Scotland’s Stephen Galacher who returned the day’s best 67.

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Emiliano Grillo, overnight leader by four shots, dropped three shots over the first four holes to find his lead shrinking alarmingly even as second-placed Shubhankar bogeyed the third hole. Thereafter, Grillo birdied the ninth but double-bogeyed the 13th and 14th, followed by a bogey on the 15th, to slip dramatically. For the third straight round, he birdied the 18th. The card of 78 pushed Grillo to the tied fourth spot.

‘Just hang in there’

Shubhankar watched Grillo’s painful existence and remained pragmatic in his approach. “I kept telling my caddie that we can’t overpower this course today so we have to just hang in there,” said the 21-year-old Indian later.

A birdie-bogey-birdie-birdie sequence between the fifth and eighth holes made him close the gap on Wallace who had taken over the lead. The birdie on the 10th was offset by an immediate bogey. A sequence of par stretched over next five holes gave him the lead as Wallace bogeyed the 16th and 17th holes.

However, on the 17th hole, Shubhankar’s approach-shot bounced off the bunker-wall and roll into the greenside hazard. He took a penalty ‘drop’ and eventually two-putted for a double-bogey. This also made Wallace sign off as the clubhouse leader. On the 18th, Shubhankar attacked the pin, came up with a clumpy-chip and a superb putt to sign off with a birdie to share the lead.

“The conditions were a lot tougher today as it was windy and the tees (10th and 15th) were pushed back. So I’m happy with what I achieved even though it was somewhat of a mixed bag. Importantly, I kept bouncing back to keep myself in the hunt,” summed up Shubhankar.

The scores
  • 209 – Matt Wallace (Eng) (69, 70, 70), Shubhankar Sharma (73, 64, 72); 210 – Stephen Gallacher (Sco) (72, 71, 67),
  • 211 – Matthias Schwab (Aut) (71, 72, 68), Andrew Johnston (Eng) (72, 66, 73), Emiliano Grillo (Arg) (65, 68, 78);
  • 212 – Sihwan Kim (USA) (70, 70, 72), Pablo Larrazabal (Esp) (67, 71, 74).
  • Other Indians:
  • 218 – Ajeetesh Sandhu (68, 76, 74);
  • 220 – Jyoti Randhawa (72, 72, 76), Anirban Lahiri (72, 73, 75);
  • 221 – Khalin Joshi (72, 68, 81);
  • 223 – Kshitij Naveed Kaul (70, 76, 77), Karandeep Kochhar (75, 72, 76);
  • 226 – Udayan Mane (72, 75, 79).