Shubhankar Sharma races into contention for Indian Open title
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 11/03/18 12:27am
Shubhankar Sharma continued his incredible run of form as he stormed into contention on the second day of the Hero Indian Open with a course-record 64.
Sharma blitzed the DLF Golf and Country Club layout for nine birdies and dropped only one shot as he raced to 11 under par, although he goes into the weekend four strokes adrift of halfway leader Emiliano Grillo.
The Argentine carded five birdies and just one bogey as he added a solid 68 to his opening 65 to remain at the top of the leaderboard on 11 under, with Sharma alone in second ahead of Andrew Johnston and Pablo Larrazabal.
Local hero Sharma, twice a winner on the European Tour this season, began the week on a high when he accepted a special invitation to compete in the Masters next month, and he will have high hopes of landing his third title on home soil following his superb second-day performance.
The Race to Dubai leader looked fatigued from his exploits at the WGC-Mexico Championship as he played his opening nine holes in five over par on Thursday before four birdies on the front nine salvaged a 73.
And the 21-year-old took that momentum into the second round, making birdies at the first and fourth before responding to a bogey at seven with another birdie at the eighth.
Sharma's back-nine troubles of the first day were soon a distant memory as he cruised home in 30 with six birdies, closing on seven under to the delight of the local galleries.
"Today's round will definitely rank up there as one of my most significant achievements, especially when it is played at this course," said Sharma, who is attached to the club. "This is a tough course and it is not easy to go low here. I'm very happy with the way I played. I've shot a few low numbers in my career and this one is right in my top five.
"If you told me I would be seven-under-par going into the weekend after being five-over-par on my opening nine holes 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. I told myself that I have momentum on my side. I just need to foot on the pedal and keep on going.
"I knew the course record was seven-under-par. To hold the record on my home course would be mean a lot to me. That was why, I decided to go for the green (on 18). 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."
Johnston returned an impressive 66 which included three straight birdies from the second and two gains over the last three holes which lifted him to six under alongside Larrazabal, who carded a 71.
Nine players were still on the course when play was suspended due to darkness, while SSP Chawrasia's hopes of a third straight victory were dashed by a 77 as he slumped to seven over - four outside the projected cut mark.