Indian golfer Shubhankar Sharma made a superb start with a five-under 66 to lie tied third on the first day of the Italian Open in Rome on Thursday.
Shubhankar is trailing Finn Tapio Pulkkanen (64) and Rory Sabbatini (65). He is currently sharing the third place with Kurt Kitayama, Joost Luiten, Bernd Wiesberger and Justin Rose.
Shubhankar, who has been playing well but not being able to sustain his level for a full week, had four birdies, an eagle and a bogey on his card.
It was Shubhankar’s third card of 66 in last six week starts besides four 67s and two 68s. Yet each week he has been undone by one poor round that has seen him drop on the leaderboard.
His best since the tied sixth at Hong Kong in late November last year, was tied 17th at BMW PGA, where he was in line for a top-five before falling because of a disappointing 76 in the final round.
India’s other two stars in the field – Gaganjeet Bhullar and SSP Chawrasia – were placed way down in 110th place following cards of three-over 74 each.
Tapio Pulkkanen carded the lowest opening round of his European Tour career to set the clubhouse target on day one at the Olgiata Golf Club for the first time in 17 years. The Finn set a blistering pace with a 64.
His bogey free effort moved him to seven-under, two clear of American Kurt Kitayama and Dutchman Joost Luiten, and three ahead of England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick and Andrew Johnston.
Kitayama is enjoying an incredible rookie season since coming through the Qualifying School, winning twice in his first 11 events and sitting 30th on the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex.
Luiten, a six time winner on the European Tour, is one place above Kitayama on the rankings after another consistent season with a Rolex Series top three in Abu Dhabi and a World Golf Championships top-10 in Mexico.