Sunday, December 10, 2017


Joburg, South Africa, December 9: Shubhankar Sharma of India continued his blistering form by shooting a third round seven-under-par 65 to take a five-shot lead at the Joburg Open on Saturday.

The 21-year-old birdied four in a row from the second hole before adding three birdies to surge to the top of the leaderboard on a 20-under-par 195 total at the R16.5 million (approximately US$1.2 million) event sanctioned by the Asian Tour, Sunshine Tour and European Tour.

After shooting a second round 61, the talented Sharma maintained his hot streak to put himself in prime position to secure a first Asian Tour victory at the Randpark Golf Club, Firethorn course.

Sharma holds a fairly dominant lead over his closest challenger Christofer Blomstrand of Sweden, who registered a sparkling 62 on his 26th birthday. James Morrison of England and Erik Van Rooyen of South Africa were a further six shots back of the lead following rounds of 67 and 70 respectively.  

The talented Indian will enter the final 18 holes as the leader for the first time in his career as he set his sights on the Joburg Open title and one of the three places available to the 2018 Open at Carnoustie.

Sharma played solidly from tee-to-green and was rarely in trouble except on the par-four 18th hole when his approach shot landed in the greenside bunker. He stayed bogey-free when he superbly hit it out of the sand trap for a close range par putt.

Player interviews:

Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) – Third Round 65 (-7), Total 195 (-20)

I’m really happy. I wanted to play even though I shot a 10-under yesterday and it is always difficult to follow up on a low round. I’m really proud with the way I played today.

The way I read the lines on the greens were pretty good. I got off to a fast start and that’s very important if you want to go low. My putting has been really good and I hope it continues.

I made birdie on hole two with a good up-and-down from the left rough. On the third, I hit a really good approach shot which spun to about five or six feet. On the par-five fourth hole, I hit two solid shots and almost made the eagle putt. On the par-three fifth hole, I hit a six-iron to four feet.

The wind kept swirling. The direction switched a few times in the round. You got to be really committed before you hit the shot.

I’m very pleased that I came to the Joburg Open. I had my visa but it has been a very long season so I was contemplating if I wanted to come here. I’m really happy that I did!

I want to stay within myself and play against my course. 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.

Christoffer Blomstrand (Swe) – Third Round 62 (-10), Total 190 (-15)

It’s a really nice birthday present! I had a 45-foot putt on the first which was bumping around, and then it started rolling quite nicely after that.

My first eagle was on hole four. I hit quite a good drive and then I hit a three-wood from 260 a bit left of the pin, and then it was straight in. I was quite happy for that. On 14, I hit a good drive as well. Then I had 245 to the pin and I hit three-wood into the wind. It was a good strike to 25 feet maybe.

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.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow. It’s really going to be fun. This is what I play for.

My Sunshine Tour win (Zambia Sugar Open, 2016, Lusaka) was absolutely important in getting me here. After I won there, I tried to figure out what my schedule was going to be and then I understood that I was going to get into these events on the European Tour. So I played a few events down here, and then I played on the Challenge Tour, and then I got my European Tour card at Qualifying School.

Of course it means a lot that there are Open Championship spots available here. But we have to treat this like a normal event. We need to play well for all four rounds, and then we can see what else is happening.

Gavin Green (Mas) – Third Round 70 (-2), Total 207 (-8)

I had a couple of birdie looks but I didn’t hit it very good off the tees. The wind was up a little bit and I thought the course was playing tough. I didn’t capitalise on my big drives on the par fives. Other than that, an under-par round never hurt anybody.

The fairways here are so tight and if you miss it, you have difficulty controlling the distance. I went through that today. Hopefully tomorrow I will keep it in play and have another under-par round.

I’m going to approach the final day like any other round. If you go at this course, it can bite you quite bad. You have to be really smart and control the ball flight a bit especially when it gets windy. For tomorrow, I’m going to see what I can do. Who knows? There might be a low one out there.

(On the Order of Merit chase) I say I feel it and sometimes I don’t but in actual fact you are always thinking about it but if you go out and play solid golf, everything takes care of itself. 

Leading third round scores:
 par 215 (2x72, 1x71)
195 - Shubhankar SHARMA (IND) 69 61 65
200 - Christopher BLOMSTRAND (SWE) 70 68 62
201 - James MORRISON (ENG) 64 70 67, Erik VAN ROOYEN (SAf) 64 67 70
202 - Marcus ARMITAGE (ENG) 69 66 67, Tapio PULKKANEN (Finland) 65 64 73
204 - Ross MCGOWAN (ENG) 66 72 66, Christiaan BEZUIDENHOUT (SAf) 69 69 66, Oliver BEKKER (SAf) 66 70 68, Steven BROWN (ENG) 68 65 71, Joachim B. HANSEN (Denmark) 66 67 71
205 - Hennie OTTO (SAf) 70 68 67, Daniel GREENE (SAf) 70 68 67, Matt WALLACE (ENG) 73 65 67, Shaun NORRIS (SAf) 69 68 68, Jinho CHOI (South Korea) 69 66 70, Kristian Krogh JOHANNESSEN (Norway) 70 65 70, Haydn PORTEOUS (SAf) 69 70 66, Charlie FORD (ENG) 70 64 71
206 - Hennie DU PLESSIS (SAf) 71 67 68, Paul PETERSON (USA) 70 67 69, Nathan KIMSEY (ENG) 65 71 70, Mikko KORHONEN (Finland) 66 65 75

210 Robert MacIntyre (Scotland) 72 67 71 (T50)



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