India’s Shubhankar Sharma was not in his element as he lost to Xander Schauffele with a hole to spare in the second match of the WGC-Dell Match Play in Austin, Texas.
The 21-year-old Indian, who took the reigning Masters champion, Sergio Garcia to the 18th hole, lost 3&1 to Schauffele.
Two defeats in two matches means Shubhankar is out of the race for a berth in the knock-out stage, but he could still gain a lot of confidence with a win in the third league match against Dylan Fritelli.
Even as Dustin Johnson crashed out, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson kept their chances alive, while Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed meet in their final league match to decide, who goes into the knockout stages.
Flying the Asian flag was Thai star Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who maintained his winning run with a thrilling 1-up triumph over Keegan Bradley of the US.
After a comfortable opening day win over Chez Reavie, Kiradech produced late birdies on 17 and 18 to turn the tables on Bradley. Kiradech needs a win or a half in his last group match against world No. 3 Jon Rahm to enter the knock-out phase.
Playing against Sharma, who caught the eye at the previous WGC in Mexico by leading after 54 holes, Schauffele set the tone from the beginning as he birdied from over 40 feet on the first, while Sharma double bogeyed.
Schauffele was two-up by the third, but successive birdies by Sharma on fourth and fifth brought the match to all square. It seemed that the Indian youngster would make the 2017 PGA Tour ‘Rookie of the Year’ sweat. But Schauffele was never headed as he won two of the next three holes.
Despite Sharma winning the ninth with a birdie, the American turned with a 1-up lead. That swelled to 3-up by the 12th and both players halved the next three holes. Sharma did win the 16th with his fourth birdie of the day, but Schauffele closed the match on 17th with a par as Sharma bogeyed. Sharma bogeyed four times and also had a double while Schauffele was consistent and had no bogeys in his 17 holes.
Garcia rallied in the final seven holes with three birdies to set up a showdown with Schauffele for a berth in the knock-out stage. Garcia was 2 down at the turn but his birdie at the 10th with a tough pin placement sparked his comeback.
Atwal shoots 71 in Dominican Republic
Indian golfer Arjun Atwal made a decent start with a one-under 71 in the first round of the inaugural Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship.
Atwal, with four birdies against three bogeys, was tied 52nd but on the cutline.
Daniel Chopra shot a two-under 70 and was tied 35th with three birdies against one bogey.
Following an opening-round nine-under 63, Brice Garnett held the first 18-hole lead of his career. His 63, which included nine birdies and nine pars, bettered Garnett’s previous career-low round by two strokes.
Neha grabs 14-shot win in Women’s Pro Golf Tour
Neha Tripathi capped an amazing week with a third successive sub-par round that gave her one of the biggest wins in the history of the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour.
A final round of three-under 69 with four birdies against one bogey, all on the back nine, gave her a week’s total of 16-under 200.
It was the best winning total of the season and also gave her a 14-shot win over the second-placed trio of Gaurika Bishnoi (71), Amandeep Drall (72) and Tvesa Malik (72).
The win was 26-year-old Neha’s first in the 2018 season and it also took her to the top of the 2018 Hero Order of Merit after six events. It also brought her a welcome win after three second places, including a play-off loss, in the previous five legs.