Shubhankar Sharma stays close to leader Burgoon
Kuala Lumpur, October 11: Shubhankar Sharma turned his fortunes around with a solid back-nine 31 as he returned with a five-under-par 67 to trail the first round leader Bronson Burgoon by four shots at the US$7 million CIMB Classic on Thursday.
Sharma, the current Habitat for Humanity Standings leader, turned in 36 before shooting five birdies on his homeward nine to sit in tied 14th place in his first appearance at the event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA TOUR at TPC Kuala Lumpur. The 22-year-old Sharma, a two-time Asian 22:20 winner, continued to impress in the country where he tasted success in February.
“I am very happy with the way I played. I didn’t get off to the best of starts on the front nine, I was level par after the front nine, but was really happy with the way I fought back and shot five-under,” said Shubhankar.
“I hit a few bad shots on the front nine and that really put me off, which shouldn’t happen normally when you’re playing. So I just told myself to be calm and just try and give it my best on the back nine and things fell into place and I made a few crucial putts.
“I just wasn’t getting the club in the right place on the backswing. Because of that, I wasn’t really squaring it up and I wasn’t really hitting it close. I thought the front nine was playing pretty easy today, especially after birdieing the first, I three-putted the second, didn’t birdie the third from the right of the green, which was pretty easy. I felt like I left a few shots out there.
“And then I was pretty frustrated with what I did on the eighth, I duffed my chip from the front edge and I made bogey there. So felt like I give a lot of shots out there, but I think I recovered really well on the back nine, made some crucial birdies to start with a birdie on the 10th and then the 11th as well was a great birdie. That just kind of set the things in motion for me and I played really well then.”
Burgoon, also making his debut at the CIMB Classic, registered a remarkable 63 to take a one-shot lead over Austin Cook while Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan, Scott Piercy and Billy Horschel, the 2014 FedEx Cup champion, were a further shot back in tied third place.
World number four Justin Thomas, a two-time CIMB Classic champion, shot a 66 to tie in sixth place with eight other players including Nick Watney, who won the event in 2012, Major champion Louis Oosthuizen, Byeonghun An of Korea and Ryder Cup winner Paul Casey.
The round of the day belonged to Burgoon, who bogeyed the 13th hole before recovering with three straight birdies and holed-out for eagle from the greenside bunker on the 18th hole.
Burgoon added five more birdies in his last nine holes to equal his career’s low round in relation to par: “I mean, I drove it well and I putted pretty good, so it was kind of – I mean, it was boring golf, but that’s always a good thing. I chipped in for eagle out of the bunker on my ninth hole, which kind of boosted me and kept me going.”
“I took quite a bit of time off after the Playoffs and last week I was pretty rusty, but I felt it kind of coming. Yesterday I was thankful I was able to play the pro-am and I felt it going a little bit. I was feeling pretty good before I teed off today.
“You have to putt well to play well. I typically drive it pretty good, so when I putt, I play pretty good.”
Malaysia’s Ben Leong fired a 68 to tie in 20th place while nine-time Asian Tour winner Gaganjeet Bhullar of India and Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, the 2013 Asian Tour number one, shared 26th place after shooting matching 69s.
Did you know?
- This is Bronson Burgoon’s first appearance in the CIMB Classic. He matched his career’s low round of nine-under-par 62 at the John Deere Classic earlier this year where he finished tied second.
- He was hot with his irons after hitting 17 out of 18 greens in regulation.
- Burgoon opened the 2018-19 PGA TOUR Season with a tied-53rd place finish at the Safeway Open last week.
- Austin Cook ended his round in style when he birdied four of his closing five holes. After missing left on the green on the par-four ninth hole, which is his last hole of the day, he chipped in for birdie to close with a 64.
- Shubhankar Sharma won his second Asian Tour title in Malaysia in February. He has held the lead on the Asian Tour’s Habitat for Humanity Standings since the victory.
- He hit 11/14 fairways and missed only two greens in regulation but struggled with the putter where he totalled 28 putts. He had one three-putt on the second hole which resulted in a bogey.
- Sharma needs a good result this week as he aims to become the Asian Tour number one. With earnings of US$$608,494, he leads by US$54,278 over Sanghyun Park who shot a 72 today.
- Thomas, the highest ranked player in the elite field, started his campaign with eight birdies against two bogeys.
- He is aiming to become the first player to win three CIMB Classic titles after winning the showpiece in 2015 and 2016
Scores after round 1 of the CIMB Classic being played at the par 72, 7005 Yards TPC Kuala Lumpur course (am – denotes amateur):
63 – Bronson Burgoon (USA).
64 – Austin Cook (USA).
65 – Scott Piercy (USA), Billy Horschel (USA), C.T. Pan (TPE).
66 – Nick Watney (USA), Emiliano Grillo (ARG), Kevin Chappell (USA), Justin Thomas (USA), Louis Oosthuizen (RSA), Joel Dahmen (USA), Byeonghun An (KOR), Paul Casey (ENG).
67 – Chesson Hadley (USA), Abraham Ancer (MEX), Siwoo Kim (KOR), J.B. Holmes (USA), Shubhankar Sharma (IND), Scott Stallings (USA).
68 – Ernie Els (RSA), Stewart Cink (USA), Kevin Na (USA), Marc Leishman (AUS), Ryan Palmer (USA), Ben Leong (MAS).
69 – Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND), Whee Kim (USA), Danny Lee (NZL), Ryan Armour (USA), Cameron Smith (AUS), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA), Charles Howell III (USA), Gary Woodland (USA), Xander Schauffele (USA).