Published: Sun, March 11, 2018
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Shubhankar Sharma, after course record at Indian Open golf, should aim higher

Shubhankar Sharma, after course record at Indian Open golf, should aim higher

A player of Grillo's obvious talent should be able to nudge it round for two days and maintain enough of a gap to take the title but there are all sorts of big numbers being racked up here this week (as was the case 12 months ago too) and I can still recall him leading the Africa Open with a round to go in 2014, when he opened up round four with a nine at the par four first! At the halfway stage, the cut was projected at three-over with eight golfers still to complete their rounds.

As many as 39 Indian players had started in a field of 144 golfers, but as things stand after a suspended second round, not more than 10 will see weekend action.

"Waking up this morning, I didn't think I was going to make it, " Larrazabal said.

Sharma's back-nine troubles of the first day were soon a distant memory as he cruised home in 30 with six birdies, closing on seven under to the delight of the local galleries. Grillo has a victory on the PGA Tour and Sharma is the current leader on the European Tour Order of Merit.

Some long birdie-putts - particularly on the par-5 624-yard 18th hole where he daringly attacked the "pin" by choosing to go over the water-hazard with his approach shot - was the hallmark of his second-nine.

Already a two-time victor on the European Tour this year, Shubhankar was placed four strokes behind the Argentine at the halfway mark and knowing the daily grind on this demanding layout, a couple of strokes lost or gained will make a lot of difference. After the birdie on 18th, which my playing partner called as the "best up-and-down" after being in bunker, I thought I was in. "It will definitely rank up there as one of my most significant achievements, especially when it is played on this course, tough as it is". But the Hero Indian Open means so much to me that I still want to come back and play it.

"I knew I needed a birdie to break the course record and wanted it badly", he said after putting his autograph on a cap for a young fan. "I knew I had momentum on my side and was playing well", Sharma said. The score took him from tied 35th in round one to tied ninth on day two. That's a shade over 54% so one could argue that Grillo is a fair price at odd-against but I'm not going to.

"If you told me I would be seven-under-par going into the weekend after being five-over-par on my opening nine holes yesterday, I would just have laughed. I'm pretty pleased. Hit the fairways and greens - I'll have the same mentality whether I'm six shots ahead or behind".

133 - Emiliano Grillo (Arg) (65, 68); 137 - Shubhankar Sharma (73, 64), 138 - Pablo Larrazabal (Esp) (67, 71), Andrew Johnston (Eng) (72, 66); 139 - Matt Wallace (Eng) (69, 70), Keith Horne (RSA) (66, 73) and Jens Dantrop (Swe) (69, 70).

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