Dubai Desert Classic: Sharma starts well to be at 20th, Bhullar has tough day

Indian golfer Shubhankar Sharma missed a lot of birdie putts but still shot a solid 2-under 70 and was lying T-20 after the first day.

File Photo of Shubhankar Sharma.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Indian golfer Shubhankar Sharma made a solid start while compatriot Gaganjeet Bhullar fell behind on the opening day of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in Dubai on Thursday.

Sharma, who missed the cut by a considerable margin last week in Abu Dhabi, missed a lot of birdie putts but still shot a solid 2-under 70 and was lying T-20 after the first day.

Bhullar, starting from 10th, had a rough day with bogeys at the start and then again towards the end of his round and finished the day with 5-over 77. He is now in danger of missing a second straight cut in the Middle East swing.

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South African Richard Sterne produced an impressive 8-under par 64 to open up a one-shot lead after day one.

Sterne, a six-time winner on the European Tour, birdied his final hole of the day at Emirates Golf Club to jump ahead of American Kurt Kitayama on seven under par, with Major Champion Sergio Garcia and fellow South African Justin Harding a further shot back at 66.

Sharma, who also started on the 10th, began the day with a birdie and added birdies on 17th, fifth and sixth, but he also dropped shots on two of the Par-3 at the 11th and 14th.

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Regretting his birdie misses at three of the four Par-5s, Sharma said, “I'm pretty happy to start at 2-under, that is good. It's very important to get off to a good start, especially on this golf course.

"I think the 2-under is pretty steady start; I played pretty solid all day. Obviously felt like I left a few shots out there missed a couple of small putts, which I should have made. Yet, all in all a pretty solid round. Something to build on tomorrow.” On missing the birdies on three of the Par-5s, he said, “That was disappointing. Should have got something more there.” With winds picking up in the afternoon, conditions were not easy and Bhullar did not have a single birdie. He bogeyed on 10th and 11th and then had further bogeys on sixth, 7th and ninth.

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Garcia won this event in 2017 before going on to claim his maiden Major Championship at the Masters Tournament later that year and the Spaniard enjoyed his return to Dubai, recording a flawless round of 66.

Englishman Paul Casey made a fast start before settling for a five under 67 despite leading for most of Thursday morning. He was later joined at that mark by Spaniard Adrian Otaegui, Belgian Thomas Detry and Scot Robert MacIntyre.

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