The Open: Shubhankar ends campaign T-54th

The Indian cards two-over 73 in the final round; final position could improve once play finishes.

Shubhankar Sharma enjoyed the experience of participating at The Open and “can’t wait to come back.”   -  AFP

India’s Shubhankar Sharma ended Tied-54th at The Open, carding a two-over 73 in the final round in Carnoustie, Scotland on Sunday.

After being two-under in first five holes, Sharma suffered a lapse in concentration as he eventually ended with a four-day total of four-over 288 even as a lot of players were yet to finish. The final position could improve once play finishes.

Sharma was back in the clubhouse before most of the leaders on a bunched-up leaderboard had come out for what was promising to be a dramatic finish. The 14-time major winner, Tiger Woods, was in the mix at four strokes behind three co-leaders — Jordan Spieth, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele.

Sharma, the youngest Indian ever to make the cut at a major, began the week with 73 and ended it with a similar card. In between, he had two par rounds of 71 each. Reflecting on the day’s work, the 22-year-old Sharma said, “It was a tough finish for me but I started off well. I was hitting it good and then I lost my concentration in the middle and made some bogeys. I was trying hard to get the momentum back towards the end of the round.”

He added, “I was happy to give myself a birdie putt on the last even though I didn’t make it. Overall, I thought I played pretty well, just left a couple of putts out there. But you’re never satisfied of the golf course so it’s all right.”

Blip

Sharma went two-under in first five on the final day after converting the birdie chances on second and fifth holes. Despite missing another opportunity or two, he was still two-under.

Over the next two holes, a Rules official spoke to Sharma, suggesting to speed up play. The subsequent effort to speed up play and then going over the edge of the green on eighth seemed to have affected his concentration. He bogeyed eighth, missed a 10-footer for birdie on ninth and missed another birdie chance from under eight feet on 10th. Then, he bogeyed 11th with a visit to the bunker off the second shot.

Read: Birthday boy Shubhankar shoots even-par 71

Disappointed and somewhat distracted, Sharma had another bogey on 13th and only a par on Par-5 14th, which had fetched him birdies on first three days. Another bogey on 15th and three pars made it a disappointing 73.

Notwithstanding the blip, Sharma enjoyed the overall experience. He said, “It’s a great tournament and definitely a good learning curve for me.”

‘Can’t wait to come back’

He added, “I can’t wait to come back here again next time. I will draw on the experiences that I got this week. Felt a little pressure but only on the second day, I was outside the cut line and I really wanted to play the weekend because it was my birthday [on Saturday]. I didn’t want to be sad on my birthday. The last two rounds were pretty enjoyable as well. This is the best birthday present that I have ever got for myself.”

Meanwhile, the leading protagonists of the ‘Drama at Carnoustie’ had just teed off but it was still far from the back-nine scorcher that was yet to come.

When play began on Sunday, there were 12 players within four shots of the lead. Tiger Woods shot 66 to compile his best round at an Open since the second round at Hoylake in 2006, which he had won. On Saturday, he had a share of the lead — his first since the second round at the 2012 PGA Championships at Kiawah Island.

THE OPEN: Enjoy Tiger Woods' Carnoustie ride

Jordan Spieth, displaying a fresh haircut on Saturday, smiled and said, “I’ve always wanted to battle it out in a major with Tiger. It’s kind of a dream come true just to have the opportunity.”

Woods, six-under through 11 holes on the third day, was asked what a win would mean and he said, “We’re not there yet. I know what you’re trying to say in asking, but let me try to get there first. Then ask me again.” He added, “It would be nice if there weren’t a lot of guys between myself and the lead, but not the way this golf course was going to set up. We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday.”

The five golfers ahead of Woods were co-leaders Spieth, Schauffele and Kisner (all at nine-under), while Kevin Chappell (seven-under) was fourth and Francesco Molinari (six-under) was fifth.