Kuala Lumpur: Shubhankar Sharma was hotter than the weather as he sizzled to a stunning 8-under 64 to put himself into contention at T-3rd at the halfway stage of the CIMB Classic, a US$ 7 million dollar event, jointly sanctioned by the PGA and Asian Tours.
The course at TPC, Kuala Lumpur has been superb despite nearly 11 inches of rain earlier this week. It was dry and the ball was running a lot. Put alongside his first round 5-under, Sharma moved to 13-under and ended at T-3rd with Ryder Cup star, Paul Casey (68-65).
The duo was one behind co-leaders American Gary Woodland (69-61), who had with stunning course-record equaling 11-undercard and Australian Marc Leishman (68-62) with an equally jaw-dropping 10-under round. They inched ahead to 14-under for a shared lead.
Of the other Indians in the field, Gaganjeet Bhullar (69-70) was 5-under and T-36, while Anirban Lahiri (72-74) was T-73rd, and Rahil Gangjee (77-71) was 4-over and 77th.
Sharma, who has not had a top-30 finish since his T-27 at Open de France in early July and has missed eight cuts in last 13 starts, was all fired up on Friday. After running through three birdies and no bogeys on the back nine, his second nine on Friday was on the front side of the TPC Kuala Lumpur, where he had six birdies against one bogey for a superb 31. On Thursday, he was even for the front nine and then had five birdies on the back nine.
“It was almost like I woke up after the front nine yesterday. I didn't really have the best of starts, but the next 27 holes after that have been really good,” Sharma said.
He has been 13-under for last 27 with 14 birdies and one bogey.
Sharma began from the back and was 3-under with birdies on 10th, 16th and 18th and then added another on first. He dropped his only shot of the day on second, where he hit right, but was lucky it did not into the thick rough. Then from third to ninth, he had five birdies, three in a row from third to fifth and closed birdie-birdie on eighth and ninth for a brilliant 8-under 64.
An elated Sharma, who was honoured with the Arjuna Award recently said, “I am really happy, really pleased with the way I played. I had a lot of birdie opportunities and I converted most of them, so very happy.”
On his play, he said that except for the second hole, his 11th of the day, where he dropped a shot, he played very well. “Yep, just the second hole, that tee shot was a bad one, but other than that I felt like I played pretty solid, hit a lot of good putts.”
On going really low when things work for him, Sharma smiled and said, “I hope so, I hope so. I just feel like all the players playing at this level are at a very high level. On a course like this when they get going, they will go really low and I just feel like even I belong in that league. When I'm feeling it and I'm hitting it good, I pretty much go at every pin and I feel like I can make all the putts.”
Bhullar has had just two birdies, but he has not been holing as many putts as he usually does and last 36 holes have produced only seven on the course, which has been yielding good scores.
Lahiri started on the tenth and very soon suffered an unlucky triple on Par-3 11th as he unintentionally grounded his club on the stone (in the hazard), when he was on the edge of the water. That resulted in a two-shot penalty and he had a bogey on the next to be 3-over through on Friday. He did pick up from there with birdies on second, third and seventh, but a bogey on eighth meant he finished 74 including the penalty. He is now 2-over and T-73.
“Nothing worked, the putts didn’t fall and that penalty, too I have been hitting, though not here, but have just not been putting well.”
While Sharma’s 64 was excellent Woodland (61) and Leishman (62) went even better. Woodland had 11 birdies, five on the back nine, which was his first nine and another six on the second nine. Leishman also started on back nine and four on his first nine and six on the second.
Casey had six birdies, an eagle and just one birdie in his 65 and he was also 12-under and T-3rd with Sharma.
First-round leader Bronson Burgoon (63-69), Austin Cook (64-68) and Scott Piercy (65-67) were all at 12-under and T-5th.
Updated Date: Oct 12, 2018 14:39 PM