Johannesburg, South Africa, 08 Dec 2017

Shubhankar Sharma shoots career-best 61, rises to second at halfway stage of Joburg Open

A red-hot Shubhankar Sharma of India fired his career’s lowest round of 10-under-61 to charge into contention at the halfway stage of the Joburg Open on Friday.
The 21-year-old, who is searching for a first Asian Tour win, fired 10 birdies at the Randpark Golf Club, par-71 Bushwillow course, to trail the leader Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland by one-shot at 13-under-130 at the R16.5 million (approximately US$1.2 million) event sanctioned by the Asian Tour, Sunshine Tour and European Tour.
Sharma’s second day effort accounted for the lowest round on the Asian Tour’s 2017 season but it will not stand as a record as the lift, clean and place rule was in effect.
Ranked 22nd on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, Sharma has enjoyed a great season so far highlighted by four top-10s and one tied fourth finish at the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open in February.

Shubhankar, who bettered his previous best of 62, achieved at the 2016 Resorts World Manila Masters, said, “It was great. I couldn’t have done better. I made pretty much made everything I looked at. I hit the ball pretty decent and made a few key up and downs. I couldn’t have asked for a better round.
“When I shot three-under yesterday, I went home and slept and when I woke up, so many guys were under-par! I wasn’t relaxed with a three-under-par and I really wanted to make birdies in my round. As soon as I was four-under after six, I was relaxed because I’m playing well.
“On 17, I hit a good shot. I tried to hit a hard drive to get on the green in two but I pulled it a little bit. I told my caddy we can still make a birdie with a wedge and hit it to about four feet. That was a good birdie.
“Bushwillow is obviously shorter than Firethorn but it is narrow. You have to be really straight off the tee if you want to attack the greens. I’m glad I came here. I’m really happy to be in the situation which I’m in.
“It is great to have a tri-sanctioned event. It is great for the Asian players like me to come out here. It is my first time in South Africa and the courses are great. We are all looking forward to more of such events in the future.
Sharma’s second round performance has raised his hopes of earning a berth at his first Major as the top three players this week who are not already exempt will earn a place at The Open in 2018.

He added, “It is every golfer’s dream to play in The Open but at the same time, I don’t really want to think too much about it. It is only halfway through. I want to keep my head down and keep playing. To win is a big thing and whatever comes with it is a bonus.” 

The second round was suspended at 5.24 pm on Friday due to thunderstorms. A total of 19 players will return at 7.30 am on Saturday to complete their rounds.
Source: Asian Tour

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