India’s Shubhankar Sharma could not make the cut at the Hero Open in Birmingham, missing out on weekend action in his first start since the return of competitive golf on the European Tour.

The 24-year-old, who shot 73 in the first round, seemed to have put himself way off the cut line with three bogeys on the trot around the turn as he dropped shots on ninth, 10th and 11th holes at which point he was four-over for the tournament.

The cut looked likely at two-under.

Sharma produced four birdies, three in a row from 12th to 14th and one more on 17th, but could not get any more and missed out.

Sam Horsfield moved into contention with a superb nine under 63, which included a hole-out eagle, taking him to the top of the leaderboard alongside Spaniard Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez (69).

First round leader Garcia Rodriguez showed no signs of nerves after opening the tournament with a course record 62, as he picked up five birdies including one at the par three 18th hole on way to a three under second round 69.

Sharma said, “I gave it all and played the last seven holes very well. But it was probably a case of too much to cover up. My real game showed up on that back stretch, but I had too much of a gap to make up.

“After three birdies, I did think of an eagle on par-5 17th, but the second shot, a 6-Iron came to the edge and I only managed a birdie.”

He added, “It was also windy and not calm like earlier in the day.”

“The two holes, tenth and 11th cost me heavily. I dropped five shots over two days on those two holes. In the second round I had a three-putt on one and another one I hit to the left and did not make an up-and-down.”

“On the 18th, a challenging par-3 and I did find the green, but it was way off almost 50 feet.”

As for the first week in the UK and competition after a long lay-off due to the pandemic, Sharma said the “game seemed okay”.

“... but some fine tuning and it should be fine again. We all stay in a bubble and I will be here till Sunday and practice here while others battle it out for Hero Open. Then we (Gurbaaz, who is caddying for him) drive to Hertfordshire, where we will be tested again.

“There are the usual nasal and throat swabs and we wait for 3-4 hours before we get the results and then get to the course. The safety arrangements have been good, so no tension.”

Horsfield got off to a perfect start on day two at Forest of Arden Marriott Golf and Country Club, opening with a birdie before holing his wedge approach from 110 yards at the fourth hole.

Back-to-back birdies at the sixth and seventh had him five under at the turn and four birdies on the back nine moved him into a share of the lead on 13 under par.

The Englishman is looking to become the first home player since Lee Westwood in 1998 to win the event, which was formerly known as the English Open.

The two leaders were three strokes clear of the nearest challenger, Belgium’’s Thomas Detry, who carded a second successive 67 for a ten under total.

Back-to-back birdies take Arjun Atwal into the weekend at Barracuda Championship

Indian golfer Arjun Atwal heaved a sigh of relief after back-to-back birdies on his second nine helped him to make the cut at the Barracuda Championship, the only PGA Tour event to use the Modified Stable format scoring system.

The 47-year-old Indian had three birdies and three bogeys as he picked three points from the round to take his total to +9 and make the cut at Tied-46th, eight places below his first-round position.

Atwal, who started his second round on the tenth tee, had setbacks with bogeys on 11th and 15th, but made amends with a birdie on 18th. A bogey on first took him back in negative digits but birdies on fourth and fifth salvaged the day.

Kyle Stanley landed his second eagle in as many days and shot a 14-point second round to take the lead into the weekend.

Stanley had a 22-point total for a two-stroke lead over Austria’s Matthias Schwab, Robert Streb and Branden Grace. PGA Tour rookie Maverick McNealy and Troy Merritt had 19 points.

Atwal, who is playing his second straight week after 3M Open, had mixed feelings on the round.

“Relief to get into the weekend, but disappointed not to make use of any of the Par-5s today. The putting still requires some work and it is crucial in an aggressive format like this. I have just one birdie on a Par-5 which was on 12th in the first round,” said Atwal.

“Those are the big points. Hopefully I can make up over the weekend. Otherwise I am feeling fine and looking forward to the last two rounds.”

The event is being played in high altitude at Tahoe Mountain Club’s Old Greenwood Course, the PGA TOUR’s lone modified Stableford scoring event.

Schwab is seeking to become the first sponsor exemption to win since Matthew Wolff won the 2019 3M Open, while Streb has never missed the cut at Barracuda, and Grace came in with four cuts before this week.

Stanley is one of the only two players to have shot two eagles so far. The other one is Roberto Castro, who has a total of 14 points and is T-19.

As per the format, Players get 8 points for an albatross, 5 for an eagle, 2 for a birdie, zero for par, minus-1 for bogey and minus-3 for double bogey or worse.

Stanley eagled the par-5 12th a day after accomplishing the feat on the par-5 sixth. He also had six birdies and two bogeys in his afternoon round Friday.

The 32-year-old is trying to win for the third time on the PGA TOUR after breaking through in the 2012 Phoenix Open and taking the 2017 Quicken Loans National.

Stanley needs a victory to get into the PGA Championship next week. The top two from the top 10, not already eligible, will get spots in the U.S. Open in September at Winged Foot.

With PTI Inputs