Sharma hangs in to stay in contention at Irish Open

Kildare (Ireland), Sep 10 (PTI) India’s Shubhankar Sharma endured a testing mid-round crisis to salvage the day with a two-over 74 that kept him in the hunt for his first DP World Tour title since 2018.

Sharma, who led after the first round and co-led after the second, dropped to T-4 at 10-under with a birdie on the last hole.

He trailed the leader Hurly Long of Germany by three shots with halfway co-leader Jordan Smith (73) in second at 12-under and four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy (66) in third at 11-under.

India’s other challenger this week, Manu Gandas missed the cut.

Sharma shared the fourth spot with Kiwi Ryan Fox (66), Frenchman Julien Brun (69), Scottish pair of Grant Forrest (69) and Calum Hill (72) and England’s Ross Fisher (74).

Sharma, starting the day in the final group and at 13-under, opened with five pars before he dropped a double bogey on the Par-4 sixth. Another bogey followed on the eighth and he turned in 3-over with no birdies.

On the back nine, the two-time DPWT winner, who logged the best-ever result by an Indian at the Open in July at T-8, fought back. He birdied the 10th, before giving away two shot on the 12th and the 13th. He birdied the 17th and closed at 74.

Long will take a one stroke lead into the final round with past champion and World Number Two Rory McIlroy just two shots back.

Long, of Germany, carded a two under par round of 70 on the Palmer North Course at the 2006 Ryder Cup venue, with a birdie at the last taking him to 13 under par, one stroke ahead of England’s Jordan Smith, who also birdied the 18th to sign for a one-over par 73.

Four-time Major Champion McIlroy started the day eight strokes off the pace but carded a six under par 66 to post an early clubhouse target of 11 under par at The K Club, the same venue where he claimed a famous Irish Open victory in 2016.

McIlroy will go in search of a third victory on the 2023 Race to Dubai, with Long seeking a maiden title and Smith hunting a third DP World Tour crown, following on from his win at last year’s Portugal Masters. McIlroy earlier won the Hero Dubai Desert Classic and the Genesis Scottish Open.

Three-time DP World Tour winner Ryan Fox matched McIlroy’s six under par 66 to move into a share of fourth place.

Shane Lowry is one of a number of competitors on eight under after signing for a level par 72.

Source: PTI News


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