Shubhankar set for Monday battle at Joburg Open
Joburg, South Africa, December 10: Shubhankar Sharma of India will continue his title hunt at the Joburg Open on Monday after thunderstorms forced officials to call off play.
Shubhankar, who is sponsored by Take Solutions, DLF Golf & Country Club and Indorama Ventures Plc., was 22-under through seven holes before a thunderstorm at 1pm forced officials to suspend play at the Randpark Golf Club.
An official announcement was made to stop play for the day at 5.30 pm with players returning on Monday at 7.30 am to finish the final round.
Shubhankar, searching for a first Asian Tour victory, holds a four-shot advantage but a fast-charging Erik Van Rooyen has a close-range birdie putt on the ninth hole to narrow the gap.
The young Indian, who held an overnight five-shot lead, birdied holes two and six but local favourite Van Rooyen is hot on his heels after making four birdies in eight holes.
“I’m going to treat it like another day. I’m going to do the same things which I’ve been doing in the last four days. It is not frustrating but you get into a groove when you start and you don’t want to come off. I saw the clouds coming on the seventh hole and I was praying we could finish. But we can’t help it. I’m playing well so I want to continue doing that,” said Shubhankar.
“If we started today, then it will be tough but tomorrow will be a new day for me. It would have been tougher if we had to play a few holes today. It would be easier to finish it off tomorrow.
“In the beginning, I tried to calm myself but it started to rain! So I went to talk to people, talked to Gavin (Green) and my father on the phone. I had to cancel my flight tickets today but that was an easy thing to do considering the position I’m in.
“I’m glad I hit a good tee shot on the second hole. I had a dream last night that I hit my tee shot into the bushes! So I felt real relief when my tee shot landed on the fairway today. I also ended up making birdie!”
Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England were on 14-under through eighth and seven holes respectively at the R16.5 million (approximately US$1.2 million) event sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and Sunshine Tour.
Did you know?
- The 2017 Joburg Open is the ninth Asian Tour event to record a Monday finish after the 2016 BANK BRI-JCB Indonesia Open, 2016 SMBC Singapore Open, 2013 CIMB Classic, 2011 Barclays Singapore Open, 2010 Barclays Singapore Open, 2008 HSBC Champions, 2006 Hero Honda Indian Open and 2005 BMW Asian Open.
- This is the first time the Joburg Open will finish on a Monday.
- Sharma is still bogey-free in his last 44 holes. He only dropped three bogeys in the opening round.
- He has never led heading into the final round on the Asian Tour but remained calmed and composed when he birdied holes two and six to maintain his lead.
- He is in the running to win his first Asian Tour title and become the first Asian to win the Joburg Open in his first appearance in South Africa. He can also claim one of the three tickets to The Open in 2018.
- Van Rooyen, who lives in Johannesburg, is the closest challenger to Sharma after he birdied holes three, four, five and seven. He is four shots back but has a tap-in birdie lined-up after his approach on the ninth hole hit the flag.
- The home favourite is playing in his rookie season on the European Tour. He has already won twice in 2017 at the Eye of Africa PGA Championship and Hainan Open on the Challenge Tour.