Sharma closes in on first European Tour win at Joburg Open

Young Indian golfer cards bogey-free 65 to open up five-shot lead

India’s  Shubhankar Sharma opened up a five-shot lead at the Joburg Open after a third-round 65. Photograph:  Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

India’s Shubhankar Sharma opened up a five-shot lead at the Joburg Open after a third-round 65. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

 

Shubhankar Sharma fired a brilliant bogey-free 65 to open up a five-shot lead heading into the final round of the Joburg Open at Randpark Golf Club.

The Indian entered the day a shot behind overnight leader Tapio Pulkkanen but as the Finn slipped to a 73, Sharma made it 37 holes without a bogey to get to 20 under and lead the way from Christofer Blomstrand.

The Swede – celebrating his 26th birthday – got to 11 under for the day after 14 holes to raise hopes of an historic 59 but came home in one over par for a 62.

Sharma has five wins on the Professional Golf Tour of India but has never won on a major circuit and may never have a better chance, with a softened Firethorn Course and preferred lies offering ample scoring opportunities in Johannesburg.

“I’m really happy,” the 21-year-old, who made birdies on the second, third, fourth, fifth, ninth, 14th and 15th, told europeantour.com. “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 of the way I played today.

“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.”

The top-three finishers not already exempt this week will earn a spot in the field for nest year’s British Open at Carnoustie so it was all to play for in the chasing pack.

England James Morrison was 14 under alongside South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen, with Pulkkanen alongside another Englishman in Marcus Armitage at 13 under.

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