Sharma fails to build on fine start, slips to T-47 after first day at Dubai

Sharma birdied the first, second and fifth to get off to a flying start but a three-putt on sixth halted that progress.

Shubhankar Sharma had five birdies and six bogeys overall, with five of those bogeys a result of three-putts including a couple from the fairway.   -  Getty Images

Shubhankar Sharma was unable to build on his brilliant start and was placed tied 47th on the opening day of the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

At the Jumeirah Golf Estate’s Earth course, Sharma first hit by a three-putt on sixth, missed a short birdie chance on seventh but then had trouble with a shoe bite from the eighth onwards and lost the momentum.

“I lost the momentum there (on sixth and seventh) and also misread some of the greens and ended with five three-putts,” said a disappointed Sharma.

However, the young 22-year-old Indian star, who won twice at the start of the current European Tour season, should still finish the season with one of European Tour’s big rewards — the Harry Cotton Rookie of the Year award, where he is leading by a big margin.

Spain’s Adrian Otaegui, winner of Belgian Knock Out, and Englishman Jordan Smith posted first rounds of 66 each to take the lead. Otaegui was bogey free, while Smith had a six-under 30 with five birdies, an eagle and a bogey on his back nine.

Defending champion Jon Rahm and 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett shot 67 with seven birdies against two bogeys to Tie for third.

Italy’s Francesco Molinari, who is having the best year of his career, and bidding for the Race to Dubai honours after his win at The Open and Ryder Cup exploits, opened with a 68 despite a closing bogey on 18th.

His closest rival, Tommy Fleetwood, the defending Race to Dubai champion, needing nothing less than a win to have any chance of overtaking his Ryder Cup partner, shot three-under 69 with two birdies in last five holes.

Six players, including Molinari, Li Haotong, Thomas Pieters and Matt Wallace were at four-under 68.

Sharma birdied the first, second and fifth to get off to a flying start but a three-putt on sixth halted that progress and he missed a chance on seventh.

Overall Sharma had five birdies and six bogeys and five of those bogeys were a result of three-putts including a couple from the fairway. But Sharma, who smiled when asked about the Rookie of the Year award, said, “You have only one chance to be a Rookie and it would be great. As I am also leading the ‘Asian Tour Order of Merit’, it would be nice to have both to complete a long and tiring, but fairly satisfying season.”

Going back to his round, he said,”It was a great start, but the three-putt on sixth and another missed chance on seventh spoilt the momentum. I did manage two more birdies, but a series of three-putts, five of them, including off the green on 18th, messed up the card.”

Sharma, who was also affected by a shoe bite but he said he hopes to "be fine by tommorrow.”