Sharma fires 66 to finishes 30th as Van Tonder wins title play-off in Kenya

Winner Daniel Van Tonder and Shubhankar Sharma. Pic: Getty Images/ET

March 26: Shubhankar Sharma holed six birdies in his round for the third day running, but this time he gave away just one bogey for a superb 5-under 66 in the final round and rose to T-30 at the Kenya Savannah Classic on Saturday in Nairobi, Kenya.

Gaganjeet Bhullar, who shot 67-66 in the two middle rounds, could not find the momentum in the final round and finished with 72 and dropped from T-27 to T-42. His rounds for the week were 70-67-66-72, SSP Chawrasia had earlier missed the cut with 75-66.

Meanwhile, South African Daniel Van Tonder (64), playing in the third last group, birdied the 18th in regulation to get to 21-under. That ultimately got him into a play-off, where he beat Jazz Janewattananond (64) on the third play-off hole with another birdie on 18th for his maiden European Tour title. Both were tied second overnight behind leader Justin Harding (73) who faded to T-13.

Sharma, whose first three rounds were 69-69-69, made birdies in bunches each day, always a good sign for a player. However, he also gave away far too much. On second day he had a double bogey and two other bogeys and in the third round his six birdies and an eagle were ruined by six bogeys. Things were tighter in the final round, where he plugged the leakage and had six more birdies against just one bogey for a total of 21 in the week.

On a tense final day, as many as four players, Van Tonder (64), Jazz (64), Sam Horsfield (64) and Callum Hill (64), reached 21-under at some stage. Van Tonder and Jazz even got to 22-under.

All four dropped a shot towards the end. Only Van Tonder after dropping from 22-under to 20-under picked a final birdie to claw back to 21-under, which helped him get into a play-off as Jazz, whose only bogey of the day came on 16th.

Overnight leader by three, Harding, winner last week at Kenya Open, looked set for a second straight win, before he faltered in the final round with three bogeys and a double bogey on 18th saw him fall to T-13.

Jazz after a birdie start piled up seven birdies in a nine-hole stretch from fifth to 13th to get to 22-under to take lead. A bogey on 16th dropped him to 21-under and was unable to find a birdie in last two holes and ended in a play-off which he lost in the third play-off hole.

Like Jazz and Van Tonder, Callum Hill and Sam Horsfield were also eight-under for the day at one stage. Hill and Horsfield were flawless and at 21-under till they arrived at the 18th. Playing one group apart both bogeyed the last and finished at 20-under and tied for third.

The European Tour has no event next week and the following week will be the 2021 Masters. The Tour will  resume action with the Austrian Open from April 15 followed by two weeks in Spain for Gran Canaria Lopesan Open and the Tenerife Open.


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