Sunshine Tour

Sharma sails to 5-shot Joburg Open lead

2017-12-09 17:11
Shubankar Sharma (Supplied)

Johannesburg - It was as clinical a display as has been seen in the Joburg Open as India’s Shubankar Sharma eased his way clear of the chasing pack in the third round on Saturday to take a yawning five-stroke lead into the final round.

The 21-year-old Asian Tour player fired a bogey-free seven-under-par 65 on the Firethorn course at Randpark Golf Club, moving to 20-under-par for the tournament.

Swede Christoffer Blomstrand’s brilliant birthday 10-under 62 was only good enough to leave him well adrift.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen shared third with England’s James Morrison on 14-under, a further shot back.

“I’m really happy,” said Sharma.

“I was really pleased with my green-reading, and I hit it pretty close and got off to a very good start. That’s very important if you want to shoot low numbers. All in all, my putting’s been really good and I hope it keeps going like this.”

It was Sharma’s second bogey-free round after his pyrotechnics on Burshillow at Randpark in the second round, where he carded a brilliant 10-under-par 61 for the lowest round of his rapidly burgeoning career.

He started the third round sedately enough, making a par on the first, but he made his intentions clear with a run of four consecutive birdies after that. Three more birdies - on nine, 13 and 14 - saw the rest of the field rapidly becoming mere specks in his rear-view mirrors.

Blomstrand’s 62 was characterised by two eagles, two bogeys and eight birdies. He won the 2016 Zambia Sugar Open on the Sunshine Tour with a closing nine-under-par 63, so he has a propensity for going low.

“It’s a really nice birthday present!” he said.

“I was really happy with my putter. I was hitting quite good shots in the beginning of my round, and then I holed them as well. It was a good start and I just tried to keep going from there.”

Van Rooyen started shakily, bogeying the first and the third, but limiting the damage by making birdie on two. He picked up three more shots on nine, 12 and 15, but he was unlucky not to pick up more with long putts on 10, 11 and 16 going agonisingly close to going in.

“It was a tough day in the wind and I got off to a really poor start,” said Van Rooyen.

“I had to knuckle down and not let the round slip away from me. I’m pleased I had no bogeys after the third. My two-under could easily have been six or seven if some putts had dropped.”

Van Rooyen - and the rest - are going need the putts to drop if they’re to chase down Sharma, who is up for the challenge.

“I want to stay within myself and play against my course,” he said.

"I have a good lead but you saw some low scores today. Anyone can shoot a seven- or eight-under-par. I need to stay calm and hit the right shots.

“I don’t want to change my strategy because I’ve played solid golf. There’s nothing much to change. You can’t play it safe because everything is in front of you. I’m going to be aggressive and won’t hit any stupid shots.”

Scores:

195 - Shubankar Sharma 69 61 65

200 - Christofer Blomstrand 70 68 62

201 - James Morrison 64 70 67, Erik van Rooyen 64 67 70

202 - Marcus Armitage 69 66 67, Tapio Pulkkanen 65 64 73

204 - Ross McGowan 66 72 66, Christiaan Bezuidenhout 69 69 66, Oliver Bekker 66 70 68, Steven Brown 68 65 71, Joachim B. Hansen 66 67 71

205 - Hennie Otto 70 68 67, Daniel Greene 70 68 67, Matt Wallace 73 65 67, Shaun Norris 69 68 68, Jinho Choi 69 66 70, Kristian Krogh Johannessen 70 65 70, Haydn Porteous 69 70 66, Charlie Ford 70 64 71

206 - Hennie du Plessis 71 67 68, Paul Peterson 70 67 69, Nathan Kimsey 65 71 70, Mikko Korhonen 66 65 75

207 - Gavin Green 70 67 70, Chris Cannon 67 70 70, JC Ritchie 71 67 69, Jean Hugo 68 68 71, Aaron Rai 69 67 71, Richard Mcevoy 66 69 72, George Coetzee 68 67 72, Mark Foster 71 68 68, Jaco Ahlers 67 68 72, Dean Burmester 66 73 68, Jens Dantorp 72 67 68, Adrien Saddier 69 65 73

208 - Vaughn Groenewald 71 66 71, Tyrone Ryan 67 72 69, Victor Perez 73 66 69

209 - Garrick Porteous 68 70 71, Matthew Baldwin 64 74 71, Stuart Manley 68 69 72, Pep Angles 69 70 70, Oliver Farr 69 67 73, Jake Higginbottom 70 69 70, Rourke van der Spuy 70 69 70, Oscar Serna 72 67 70, MJ Viljoen 68 67 74, Sebastian Heisele 64 71 74, JJ Senekal 71 68 70

210 - Carlos Pigem 67 71 72, Keenan Davidse 63 74 73, Scott Vincent 71 68 71, Dylan Frittelli 70 69 71, Jaco Prinsloo 67 69 74, Lionel Weber 68 71 71, Andrea Pavan 66 73 71, Robert Macintyre 72 67 71, Jens Fahrbring 72 67 71, Daniel Brooks 66 67 77

211 - Oliver Lindell 66 72 73, Adrian Meronk 65 72 74, Stephen Ferreira 67 71 73, Marco Iten 71 67 73, Ockie Strydom 64 73 74, Adri Arnaus 69 70 72, Jeff Winther 70 66 75, Eirik Tage Johansen 73 66 72

212 - Tjaart van der Walt 73 63 76, Jacques Kruyswijk 70 69 73, Andrew Curlewis 73 66 73

213 - Andre Nel 71 67 75, Terry Pilkadaris 68 70 75, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit 73 65 75, Cody Martin 71 68 74, Sam Chien 71 68 74

Missed the cut:

214 - Toby Tree 67 71 76, Breyten Meyer 70 68 76, Jacquin Hess 68 71 75

215 - Alfie Plant 70 68 77, Chris Swanepoel 67 72 76, Johannes Veerman 70 69 76, Jake Redman 70 69 76

Read more on:    sunshine tour  |  joburg open  |  golf
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