Kildare (Ireland) Sep 9 (PTI) Shubhankar Sharma dropped a late bogey after a splendid front nine to shoot 6-under 66 and grab the joint lead at the Horizon Irish Open. Sharma shared the lead with Jordan Smith, who seemed to be moving into a sole lead before he had a double bogey on the challenging 17th hole.
Smith closed with a birdie for a seven-under 65 and he was also 13-under on the Palmer North Course at the K Club.
The star-studded field includes Rory McIlroy (69-70) in T-26th place and Shane Lowry (68-68) is T-9.
Things did not go too well for the other India’s Manu Gandas (73-78) as he missed the cut by a big margin.
Sharma, seeking his first DP World Tour victory since 2018, raced through the front nine in 7-under 28 with seven birdies and two pars. At that stage Sharma after 27 holes was bogey-free and 14 under.
A bogey each on the 10th and the 17th holes, where he went into the water pushed him back as he had two bogeys and a birdie on 11th for a day’s work of 6-under after an impressive first round of 7-under.
At 13-under, he was six shots ahead of the next player at one stage. But by the end of the day, Sharma was joined by Smith.
“It was a really quick start. Very early morning start for us, so I was a bit sleepy in the morning. I managed to make a lot of putts on the front nine,” Sharma said.
“I had nine single putts which was amazing. I don’t think I’ve done that before. Everything was just going nicely. I was hitting it in the right spots and I was really good inside ten feet. So it all came together.” “It was amazing. It was flowing nicely. I was hitting in the right spots, and I was really good inside 10 feet. It was still hot, unusual for Ireland. The greens were better. It is still gettable and scoreable.” “I am not much of a stats guy. Good you told me. I am a bit of a feel guy. I was sick last week but played good this week. I have been working on some things and it’s good to see things working out,” he added.
Sharma, who opened the season with T-7 at his first event of 2023 in Abu Dhabi, has had just one more Top-10 since then and it came at the Open, where he became the first Indian to log a Top-10 at the Open.
Currently 65th, he is also looking at getting into the Top-50 to qualify for the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in November.
Smith, who won his second DP World Tour title at last year’s Portugal Masters, carded nine birdies and a double bogey in his round of 65.
Sharma and Smith sit one stroke ahead of Englishman Ross Fisher, who went bogey-free after signing for a second consecutive round of 66, with Germany’s Hurly Long occupying fourth place on 11 under par.
In fifth is Scotsman Calum Hill, who carded three eagles and three birdies in his round of 65.
Source: PTI News