Oct 30: Shubhankar Sharma playing almost at the crack of dawn joked the bogey-bogey start in the second round actually woke him up and he finished with 5-under 66 to rise to Tied-sixth at the halfway stage of the inaugural Cyprus Open at the stunning Aphrodite Hills Resort in Paphos, Cyprus.
It was his best round since November, 2019, when he shot a 64 on the final day of the Turkish Airlines Open, where he finished T-7.
Sharma at 9-under is two shots behind the leaders, Jamie Donaldson, who still had one hole from second round to play, and Marcus Armritage, who has three holes left, which he will before starting his third round.
Meanwhile, India’s other challenger, SSP Chawrasia (71-70) at 1-under will miss the cut, which will likely fall at 3-under.
Sharma, who had a mid-afternoon finish on the first day, had a horrific bogey-bogey start after a flawless first round. He steadied himself to the extent and made no more bogeys and instead had a birdie and an eagle on front nine followed by five birdies on the back nine for 5-under 66.
Sharma, who sits 151st on the Race to Dubai, and needs a few solid results to have a chance to get to DP World Championship in Dubai, said, ““I think (the two bogeys at the start) actually made me focus. I was joking with my friend who is on the bag that it opened my eyes – I had an early tee off today and was a little sleepy on the first two holes.
“The first wasn’t an unforced error. I had a great shot which landed two feet from the pin, it rolled off the green and I missed the up and down from there. I made a stupid bogey on the second, but after the second I told my friend (on the bag) I’m playing too well to let this put me down. We set a target for ourselves, we wanted to finish 10-under for the first two days. We just came up one shy, but that helped me refocus and put things into perspective.”
Sharma, who has struggled so far this season and this season has a best result of T-26 at ASI Scottish Open earlier, said he has noticed an improvement in his iron play in recent weeks and now his putting seems to have turned a corner, too.
“It was a tough start to the year. I was really struggling to find my rhythm. My iron play wasn’t and that is the strongest part of my game. Thankfully the last few weeks it’s starting to come around. I’ve been struggling with my putting, but this week it has been decent. I’ve made a lot of these four or five footers I’ve been missing the past few weeks. I’m really happy I’m finally turning a corner, hopefully I’ll have some good finishes now and try and make it to Dubai,” he added.
He said the experience of past two years on the European Tour is also helping. “As professional golfers this is what you strive for, you want to be in the mix going into the weekend. It’s been a while since that has happened. I felt that at the Scottish I was quite close, I was 13th after two days.”
“Experience plays a big role. This is my third year on Tour and I’ve been in this situation many times before – that will definitely help. But, on this course, anyone can shoot a low number. If there’s no wind and it’s calm, I think there’s a ten under out there,” added Sharma.
Scot David Drysdale and early starters Sami Välimäki and Richard McEvoy were the nearest challengers to the co-leaders, Donaldson and Amirtage. They were on ten under, one stroke ahead of the large group containing first round co-leader Johannes Veerman.