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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 13 Oct 2018

Shubhankar Sharma shoots third round of 66 to share top spot at CIMB Classic; Looks to create history by becoming only the second Indian to win on the PGA Tour

Shubhankar Sharma of India produced a gutsy six-under-par 66 to share the third round lead on Saturday, and put himself in prime position to become the first Asian to win the US$7 million CIMB Classic.

The 22-year-old produced some solid golf as he shared top spot with two-time CIMB Classic runner-up Gary Woodland of the United States, who missed his eagle on the last for a 67, and Australia’s Marc Leishman (67) on 19-under-par 197s.

Major champion and 2012 Malaysian Open winner Louis Oosthuizen registered a sparkling 65 to lie two shots back with round one leader Bronson Burgoon, who shot a 67 at the TPC Kuala Lumpur.

Sharma, the current Asian Tour number one, was fast off the blocks when he birdied holes two, three, five and seven before trading three birdies and one bogey on his homeward nine.

The Indian will enter the final 18 holes with high confidence in the country where he won his second Asian Tour title in February. This will be the second time in 2018 Sharma is in contention for a PGA TOUR title. He led by two shots heading into the final round of the WGC - Mexico Champion before settling for tied ninth.

This is Shubhankar Sharma’s first appearance at the CIMB Classic. He will be aiming to become only the second Indian player to win on the PGA TOUR after Arjun Atwal won the 2010 Wyndham Championship.

The last and only Asian to lead/co-lead heading into the final round of the CIMB Classic was Anirban Lahiri. He led by four shots before finishing in a share of tied third place.

After 54 holes, Sharma has only dropped four shots while shooting 23 birdies.

He only found 13 greens-in-regulation and fairways but took advantage of a hot putter where he totalled 25 putts, the lowest in three days.

Sharma has won two tournaments over the past 12 months, the Joburg Open in South Africa in December and another tournament in Malaysia in February, events sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.

The best Asian finisher at the CIMB Classic was Hideki Matsuyama in 2016 where he finished in second place. Lahiri and Kiradech were tied third in 2016 and 2013 respectively.

Shubhankar said, "I would say it was a great scoring round, feeling I can still hit it better. Maybe yesterday was a better ball striking round compared to today, but on this golf course you have to really get into that zone and I've been able to do that for the past three days and that's why I've been scoring really well.  But I still feel like there are a few changes I can make and come back strong tomorrow.

"Good thing is that I've been in this position before and I'm in it again. But the good thing also is that we're in Asia and I'm going to get a lot of support from all the fans. I know what to do and what not to do, so I'll just try and relax as much as possible and come back tomorrow strong.

"Asia is our home and it's always good when you're playing well in front of home crowd. It was evident today I got a lot of support from people who came out and also on the 18th when I got a good ovation. So I'm really happy that I'm back and I'll give it my best tomorrow."
 
Among the other Indians, Gaganjeet Bhullar was tied 42nd at six-under-210, Anirban Lahiri was tied 64th at two-under-214 and Rahil Gangjee was 77th at five-over-221.
 
Source: Asian Tour
 
 

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