Sharma comes agonisingly close to winning Abu Dhabi Champs, finishes second

Sharma, who was hit by a double bogey on two of the first three days, endured another one on the final day at a crucial juncture.

Shubhankar Sharma of India plays a shot on the 18th hole during the final round of the Abu Dhabi Championship golf tournament at the Yas Links Golf Course.   -  AP

Indian golfer Shubhankar Sharma put up an amazing performance against a star-studded field but came up one stroke short of what would have been the biggest victory of his career, ending tied second at the Abu Dhabi Championship here on Sunday.

Sharma, starting the day at T-4, finished Tied-second for his career-best result on the European Tour, now called the DP World Tour. He was day at 1-under 71 for the day and totalled 9-under for the tournament.

Sharma, who was hit by a double bogey on two of the first three days, endured another one on the final day at a crucial juncture.

After having shown his intentions of making a charge with a fine birdie on second, Sharma was hit by a double bogey on Par-4 third.

But he fought back and stayed in the frame. He birdied the fifth, 10th and missed a par putt on the 17th. He did manage a birdie on 18th but the bogey on 17th was costly.

Belgian Thomas Pieters, the overnight co-leader at 10-under, birdied eighth but dropped a shot at 11th to be back at 10-under.

He went through tense moments on the back as he parred his last seven holes.

Sharma was thrilled with his performance, yet he did feel disappointed at having come so close and missing the big title.

"I am very happy with the way I played today and I am delighted with my finish," said Sharma.

"I putted really well throughout the tournament and it was a shame I missed the one on the 17th. But to finish with a birdie on the last was a good feeling.

"This just gives me a lot of confidence going forward into the season. Some of the top players in the world were here this week, and gives me a lot confidence that I can finish high up on the leaderboard and compete with them," he added.

Pieters became the first Belgian to win a Rolex Series event. The former Ryder Cup player was calmness personified while the others fell away in the challenging breezy conditions at Yas Links.

A birdie at the eighth hole moved him three shots clear but Viktor Hovland, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Rafa Cabrera Bello and Sharma were among the many stars to move in and back out of contention at various points during a thrilling final day.

Pieters dropped just a single shot thereafter, at the par-5 11th, and signed for a level-par 72 and a 10-under total.

That elevated him to the top of the 2022 DP World Tour Rankings and moved him firmly back into the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time since April 2018.

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