ASI Scottish Open: Shubhankar Sharma cards one-under 70 in first round

Sharma lies tied-39th; Gaganjeet Bhullar struggles to a six-over 77.

Shubhankar Sharma ensured his best start to a tournament since February, 2020. - GETTY IMAGES (FILE)

India’s Shubhankar Sharma carded a one-under 70 in the first round of the ASI Scottish Open here.

Sharma struck two birdies against one bogey to be tied-39th at the challenging Renaissance Club even as his colleague and compatriot Gaganjeet Bhullar struggled to six-over 77 – including a closing triple bogey -  on Thursday.

The early starters had to contend with cold, damp and windy conditions and Sharma, who was playing with his good friend and Indian pro player Ainesh Ahluwalia, his caddie, was steady.

Sharma had a bogey on the second, but birdies on the fifth and 15th and pars in the rest of the round meant a 70. It was his best start since February, 2020; he carded a two-under 68 in the opening round of the Saudi International in January-February earlier this year.

Veteran Lee Westwood, who turned 47 in April, carded a flawless nine-under 62 to lead the tournament he won 22 years ago at Loch Lomond.

Westwood’s card included two eagles in the space of five holes and he added five birdies as the Rolex Series returned at The Renaissance Club. He led by a shot over Sweden’s Alexander Bjork and Joost Luiten of the Netherlands.

Scotland’s Scott Jamieson, one of the 15 local Scottish players in the field, was on seven-under, with compatriot Craig Lee another stroke back alongside England’s Robert Rock and Finland’s Kalle Samooja.

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Sharma has been having a lean time on the current stretch of European Tour events, where he has missed five cuts in eight starts and had a best of T-44 at Portugal Masters.

Disappointing round

Bhullar had another disappointing round after missing the cut last week in Northern Ireland.

Bhullar had five bogeys in the first 12 holes before birdies on the 13th and 15th seemed to be a small consolation. He then dropped a triple bogey on par-four 18th and ended with 77, which left him a lot of work to do to make it to the weekend action.

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Westwood, who started the year with a win at Abu Dhabi, has since finished Tied-4th at Honda Classic on PGA Tour but missed the cut at Arnold Palmer before COVID halted all golf. On return, he played only in Europe and was Tied-17 at U.K. Championships and Tied-10th at Estrella Damm Andalucia Masters before he went to U.S. for the US Open.

Among others shooting 70 like Sharma were Malaysia’s Gavin Green, Thai Jazz Janewattanond, last week’s runner-up Aaron Rai and Matt Wallace.

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