Sharma rallies on back nine to shoot 68 in Scottish Open

Gullane, Jul 14 (PTI) Shubhankar Sharma, buoyed by the presence of his family around him for the next two weeks, made an excellent recovery on the back nine to card a decent two-under 68 in the first round of the Genesis Scottish Open.

Sharma, who was one-over for the front nine at the challenging Renaissance Golf Club in North Berwick gathered three birdies in a stretch of four holes for a round of 68 that pegged him in Tied-26th place after the first day.

While that may be a bit far from Korea’s Byeong Hun An, who fired a career low and course-record equalling nine-under 61 to snatch the first round, Sharma’s second half would have given him hope after some disappointing performances of late.

Sharma opened the tournament with a birdie on the first but dropped shots on the Par-5 third and Par-4 eighth to make the turn at one-over. However, birdies on 13th, 15th and the Par-5 16th saw him finish well at the Par-70 course in the USD nine million event co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour and the PGA TOUR.

As the 31-year-old Korean, An Byeong, holed nine birdies without a bogey, Davis Riley shot a 63 for solo second. The reigning FedExCup champion Rory McIlroy and Thomas Detry ended the opening day in tied third following matching 64s.

Another Korean, KH Lee carded a bogey-free 65 for joint fifth, while Tom Kim, who finished third here a year ago, renewed his love-affair with links golf with a 66.

China’s Ashun Wu and Sharma also enjoyed solid starts with 68s to ensure a strong Asian presence in the Home of Golf.

“The next two weeks are big,” said the 26-year-old Sharma, who has also qualified for The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool next week.

“The game has been really good, but sometimes when you’re trying really hard to get results they both don’t match up. I’m hoping things will change this week.” If a player like Sharma, a two-time winner on the DP World Tour, can pull off a win at the Renaissance, an immediate PGA TOUR card awaits. The leading 10 players not otherwise exempt on the final 2023 DP World Tour’s Race to Dubai rankings will also secure PGA TOUR cards.

“This (event) is slightly more high profile for us on the DP World Tour as it co-sanctioned with the PGA TOUR,” said Sharma.

“It’s very nice. I don’t remember when the whole family has been together for an event, probably pre-Covid. My sister is very excited as it’s her first time here.

“It takes the mind off the golf once you’re done here, you go back and there’s mum’s cooking as well and you’re more in your comfort zone.” An Byeong, the leader seeking his first win the PGA TOUR, has shifted to a broomstick putter.

“It was nice. I couldn’t play any better. That’s a clean scorecard. Overall, very relaxed out there and the weather has been nice so far,” he said.

World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler opened his campaign with a 68 while defending champion Xander Schauffele signed for a 70 to be well off the early pace.

Source: PTI News


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