Golf: On a windy day at a tough course, Shubhankar Sharma takes joint lead at Indian Open

Overnight leader Emiliano Grillo had a disastrous third round, with a 6-over 78.

On a low scoring day at the DLF Golf and Country Club, Gurugram, Shubhankar Sharma seized a share of the lead with an even-par round to ensure that he would go into the last day with a chance to win another title on the European Tour.

Sharma shot an even-par 72 to end Round 3 on 7-under, tied for the lead with England’s Matt Wallace. Wallace shot a 2-under 70 while overnight leader Emiliano Grillo of Argentina had a day to forget with a 6-over 78.

Sharma said he was looking forward to the final round:

“It was very windy today. The first two days were surprisingly calm. The course played really tough and I’m very happy with a 72. It was a mixed bag as everything happened. I holed out at the second, made a few good birdies and got a bad bounce on the 17th. I’m very pleased with the birdie at the last, which allowed me to grab a share of the lead.”  

Sharma had five birdies throughout the round, but a double bogey on the 17th saw the 21-year-old stumble down the leaderboard before recovering with a birdie on the 18th. “At the second hole, where I holed out, I had a bad lie in the bunker. It was downslope and I didn’t want to duff it, as I’ll have no chance of an up-and-down if that happened. I caught it just on the ball which went over. The ball just came out three yards in front and it went to the centre of the cup. At the fifth hole, as soon as I hit it, I knew I had a birdie chance.”

The course is one of the most difficult not just in India, but in the world and Sharma re-iterated that point. “I kept telling my caddie that this is our home course. You can’t overpower this course,” Sharma said. “So, I told myself, just hang in there. I will hit a few bad shots and I understand that it’s all part of the game. You just have to stay patient.”

“I was one-under-par after nine holes, which was crucial. I’m happy to be able to come back with birdies on seven and eight. The birdie on 10th was fantastic as the hole was played off the back tees. I have always played the 10th from the front tee box.”

Sharma rued his shot on the 17th but was happy with his round otherwise as he managed three birdies on the front nine, “I made a few bad swings coming in, got a bad bounce on the 17th, but other than that, I think I played pretty solidly. I smashed my driver on the 18th. I’m happy that I had a short club in. It was a pretty easy chip from the greenside. Even though I didn’t hit the chip perfect, the ball still rolled next to the pin and I’m happy to make that putt.”

Sharma led till the final round of the WGC Championships in Mexico before finishing 9th and said he would draw on those experiences, “I’m just looking forward to playing out there again. I just want to have fun. It’s the second week in the row I’m in the leading group. I’m going to draw from my experiences last week. I know it’s going to be a battle out there tomorrow and I’ll be ready for it.”

When asked if he followed football and would be watching the Manchester United-Liverpool game he replied, “Most of my friends are United fans. So I end up watching the games with them. But I am a Barcelona fan.”

Joint leader Matt Wallace was happy with his efforts on a difficult day, “It was hard. I played really nice and I just said as we walked off, the bogeys I made I hit kind of good shots. That 17th hole was brutal today. I mean, we all played it differently and managed to find ourselves in the same position. I hit lob wedge in there and couldn’t hold the green, so yeah it was tough. The wind was gusting around in different directions but I’m pretty happy with my score.”

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