Gurugram, Haryana, 09 Mar 2018

Shubhankar Sharma’s phenomenal course record 64 propels him to second place, trails leader Emiliano Grillo by four

Khalin Joshi also in top-10 after a flawless 68

Two-time European Tour winner and pre-tournament favourite Shubhankar Sharma continued his rich vein of form as he delivered a phenomenal course-record score of eight-under-64 in round two of the Hero Indian Open 2018 that propelled him to second place at seven-under-137.

The 21-year-old European Tour Race to Dubai leader’s second round heroics at his home course, the DLF Golf & Country Club, placed him four shots behind leader Emiliano Grillo of Argentina.

Khalin Joshi’s error-free four-under-68 ensured he was the second Indian in the top-10 on day two. Joshi was in tied ninth at four-under-140.
Nine out of the total 144 golfers could not finish their second round on Friday due to the fading light. The cut is likely to be applied at three-over-147.

Shubhankar Sharma (73-64), lying tied 55th after round one, proved once again why is touted as the next big thing in international golf as he produced an exceptional 64 that lifted him 53 places on the leaderboard.

In the process, Sharma broke the previous course record of 65 held jointly by Emiliano Grillo of Argentina, who achieved the number in round one on Thursday, as well as Malaysian Gavin Green, who fired the score at the last edition of the Indian Open. 

Sharma, who was five-over through his first nine holes in round one, staged a remarkable fight-back to rise into contention by going 12-under over the next 27 holes.

Shubhankar, the highest-ranked player in the field at world no. 66, was two-under for the day when he made the turn on Friday but then put his foot on the pedal on the back-nine with six birdies which included a tap-in on the 10th and a 30-feet conversion on the 12th.

Sharma, who had a tied ninth finish at last week’s WGC event in Mexico, said, “Today’s round will definitely rank up there as one of my most significant achievements, especially when it is played at this course. This is a tough course and it is not easy to go low here. I’m very happy with the way I played. I shot a few low numbers in my career and this one is right in my top five.
“I know I had to get a good start. I normally try to do as best as I can on the front nine. I did my best, but it was still two-under-par. But I was hitting it well, even though the back nine is tougher than the front nine, I knew I could still make birdies.
“If you told me I would be seven-under-par going into the weekend after being five-over-par on my opening nine holes (10th to 18th) yesterday, I would just have laughed. To be able to bounce back is really important, I knew I was playing well and I had to push myself a little. In the morning, I told myself that I have momentum on my side. I just need to foot on the pedal and keep on going.
“My highlights are all from the back nine. My second shot on the 10th, which landed about a foot from the hole, started it all. That was a very tough pin. The birdie putt on the 12th hole was huge as well.
“I knew the course record is seven-under-par. To hold the record on my home course would be mean a lot to me. That’s the reason I decided to go for the green.
“The crowd was fantastic. I always enjoy playing in front of the home crowd.
“I’m just going to play the way that I’ve always been playing. I’m just going to have fun. I know I’m playing well and I have nothing to lose.”
Shubhankar’s close friend Khalin Joshi (72-68), who had missed the cut at the Indian Open by one shot for the last three years in succession, too made significant ground with his 68 on Friday. The score took the 25-year-old from tied 35th in round one to tied ninth on day two.
Joshi said, “To go bogey-free on this course is extremely pleasing. My short-game was unreal today. I made all putts from a range of five feet. I also made some terrific par-saves from the bunker. I missed just one fairway.

“My game has been in good shape so I just needed a solid game-plan heading into today’s round. I sat down with my coach Gaurav Dewan who is here this week and chalked out my game-plan. The plan was to play conservative and stay out of trouble. It worked well for me.”

Ajeetesh Sandhu, the best Indian on day one, carded a 76 in round two to slip to tied 31st at even-par-144. Anirban Lahiri (73), the 2015 champion, was a further shot back in tied 35th.

Teenaged amateur Kshitij Naveed Kaul (two-over-146) as well as Karandeep Kochhar, another teenager, and Udayan Mane (both with totals of three-over-147) will also make the cut among the Indians.

Three-time Indian Open champion Jyoti Randhawa, who was at an even-par total through 15 holes when play was suspended, is likely to be the eighth Indian to make the cut.

Arjun Atwal and Shiv Kapur, both with totals of four-over-148, are likely to miss the cut.

The other prominent Indian names who will miss the cut, are defending champion SSP Chawrasia (seven-over-151), Gaganjeet Bhullar (nine-over-153) and Jeev Milkha Singh (20-over-164).

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