Mixed feelings for Sharma after 2-under in Abu Dhabi; lies T-38; Jamieson leads

Leader Scott Jamieson; Viktor Hovland (top inset) and Shubhankar Sharma (bottom inset). Pic: Getty Images/ European Tour

Abu Dhabi, Jan 20: Shubhankar Sharma, India’s lone golfer in the Abu Dhabi Championship, returned with mixed feelings after a round of 2-under 70 on the opening day at the Abu Dhabi Golf Course.

Sharma, who had an early double bogey on the par-3 fourth hole, fought back with four birdies. He also missed at least two other birdies after reaching Par-5s on second and 11th in two. However, he three putted both for pars in European Tour’s opening event for 2022. With 70 he was lying T-38th with a few players yet to finish.

“It could easily have been a 4 or 5-under,” said Sharma, who was inside Top-70 in the Race to Dubai last season and hopes to go better this season.

Jamieson from Glasgow, Scotland birdied half of the 18 holes on the first day to shoot 9-under and take the lead. Jamieson, whose only win came in the Nelson Mandela Championship in 2013 when it was reduced to 36 holes, had four birdies on the front nine and five on the back stretch of the course. He led by one over Viktor Hovland (64).

Sharma had mixed feelings abouts his round, and commented, “It was a very up-and-down round; very average. Score wise 2-under is not the worst of starts but the way I was hitting it, I gave myself a lot of opportunities for birdies. I didn’t really convert them and even the two shots I dropped on the 4th hole came after what was one the best shots of the day with 6- iron. I just landed just short and then I duffed that chip and missed the putt. Quite unnecessary. Other than that I felt I played quite well and there is a lot to build upon for tomorrow, when it is going to be very windy. I will do some work on the putting green and come out all guns blazing.”

Soon after that ‘soft double bogey’, as he called it, Sharma had back-to-back birdies and said, “Actually I was quite angry after the double. So to hit a couple of good shots and get birdies on the next two felt good.”

He added, “It should have been 67 or 68. Those two Par-5s, second and 11th, I was on in two and had eagle putts. But I three-putted. I should have at least had birdies. Then on 14th I hit a great shot and missed a 4-foot birdie. So it could have been a lot better. Tomorrow is expected to be windy but I need to play to the best and who knows it could be a 67.”

Like the leader, Jamieson, Norwegian Hovland, one of the rising stars of world golf, too, had nine birdies, but also dropped a bogey on 12th for his 64. Belgian Thomas Pieters carded 65. Japan’s young gun Takumi Kanaya had two eagles and four bogeys against two bogeys on 13th and 17th for his 66 and he was in a big crowd at Tied-fourth.

Four-time winner of Rolex Series events, Tyrrell Hatton, who admitted he struggled for motivation in the second half of 2021, opened his defence with a fine 66.


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