Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 11 Oct 2018

Shubhankar Sharma strikes sizzling 67 to be tied 14th after round one of CIMB Classic, lies four off the pace

India's Shubhankar Sharma turned his fortunes around with a solid back-nine 31 as he returned with a five-under-par 67 to trail the first round leader Bronson Burgoon of the United States by four shots at the US$7 million CIMB Classic on Thursday.

Sharma, the current Habitat for Humanity Standings leader, turned in 36 before shooting five birdies on his homeward nine to sit in tied 14th place in his first appearance at the event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA TOUR at TPC Kuala Lumpur.

The 22-year-old Sharma, a two-time Asian Tour winner, continued to impress in the country where he tasted success in February. He got off to a slow start but bounced back brilliantly with five birdies in the last nine holes.

Shubhankar hit 11 out of 14 fairways and missed only two greens in regulation but struggled with the putter where he totalled 28 putts. He had one three-putt on the second hole which resulted in a bogey.

Sharma needs a good result this week as he aims to become the Asian Tour number one. With earnings of US$$608,494, he leads by US$54,278 over Korean Sanghyun Park who shot a 72 today.

Sharma said, "Very happy with the way I played. I didn't get off to the best of starts on the front nine, I was level par after the front nine, but was really happy with the way I fought back and shot five-under.

"I hit a few bad shots on the front nine and that really put me off, which shouldn't happen normally when you're playing. So I just told myself to be calm and just try and give it my best on the back nine and things fell into place and I made a few crucial putts.

"I just wasn't getting the club in the right place on the backswing. Because of that, I wasn't really squaring it up and I wasn't really hitting it close. I thought the front nine was playing pretty easy today, especially after birdieing the first, I three-putted the second, didn't birdie the third from the right of the green, which was pretty easy. I felt like I left a few shots out there.

"And then I was pretty frustrated with what I did on the eighth, I duffed my chip from the front edge and I made bogey there. So felt like I give a lot of shots out there, but I think I recovered really well on the back nine, made some crucial birdies to start with a birdie on the 10th and then the 11th as well was a great birdie. That just kind of set the things in motion for me and I played really well then."

Nine-time Asian Tour winner Gaganjeet Bhullar took a share of 26th place after shooting a 69.

The other two Indians in the field, Anirban Lahiri (72) and Rahil Gangjee (77), were placed tied 56th and 78th respectively.

This is the first time that four Indians are playing a PGA Tour event.

Source: Asian Tour

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