Birmingham, July 30: Shubhankar Sharma began with a flourish, but two slightly wayward tee shots cost him heavily as he ended the first day with a roller-coaster one-over 73 in the Hero Open.
The 24-year-old Indian, who has two wins on the European Tour, had a birdie followed by an eagle on second and third holes, but double bogeys on 10th and 13th on the tougher back stretch of the Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel & Country Club saw him drop a bunch of shots.
Overall, he an eagle, three birdies, two bogeys and two double bogeys in an eventful round at the Hero Open, which is the second event on the UK Swing.
Spain’s Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez fired a stunning 62 to hold the clubhouse lead on day one, as fellow Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal shot 64. Veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez, the 56-year-old playing his record 707th European Tour event. Jimenez was five-under through 10 holes with five birdies.
“Frankly, despite the over par round, I felt I played well. Just the tee shot on 10th and 13th cost me a lot. On 10th, I hit it slightly to the left and then did not have a shot, so chipped out and then missed an up-and-down too. On 13th, the wind took the tee shot a little too much to the left and I lost the ball,” said Sharma. “I feel I can get it all back tomorrow.”
Speaking of his eagle on third, he added, “That was nice coming after a 15-foot birdie on second. I hit two good shots and holed a 15-footer for eagle. I had two other birdies with nice approach shots. As I said I did not feel any rust because I have been playing and keeping scores at home in Chandigarh. Just need to tighten those small errors and it should be fine.”
On the experience of getting to UK and spending time in a bubble, Sharma said, “The flight was fine and the immigration was smooth because all the formalities had been done before taking off. At the event, we were tested and we are now in a bubble and meals are just me and Gurbaaz (who is on the caddie for him) and we all maintain social distancing. We know the rules, so nothing new and we had been practicing that at the course in Chandigarh, too.”
On the low-scoring opening day, Sharma felt, “The two scores of 10-under by Sebastian Garcia, and 8-under by Pablo (Larrazabal) were superb, but it is a scoring course if we handle it well.”
On Miguel Angel Jimenez’s 707 starts, Sharma was in awe, saying, “That is a lot of years of playing pro golf. Imaging 25-30 every year for almost 22-25 years. Wow, what a record.”
Rasmus Hojgaard of Denmark with 66 was third, while Oliver Farr was also six under with two more holes to go.
David Drysdale shot a one over 73 on his 500th European Tour appearance.