03 November 2018: The struggles of a golfer who is playing well without the scores to show for it, is a frustrating narrative. Shubhankar Sharma is living that story this week, waiting for that one round which can help him turn from maintenance man to Matador. On a brilliant day for golf, Shubhankar played with clinical levels of discipline and commitment to score 70 in the third round of the Turkish Airlines Open.
Haotong Li put on a display of fireworks, soaring on an eagle at the par-4 tenth and six birdies to gain a comfortable three-stroke lead in this European Tour event at the Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort in Kadriye, Turkey.
“I am happy with the way I played, especially the eagle at the tenth hole was the highlight of the round. It was about 173 yards, flew my eight iron pin high. It did not spin, got on a roll and then caught the slope back to the pin,” said a smiling Haotong.
“I am looking forward to Sunday and it will be exciting to play with Rose and Levy.”
Justin Rose and Alexander Levy were doing their best to keep the Chinese leader honest, but they will begin Sunday chasing Haotong Li. The latter shot a spotless 66 while Rose conceded four bogeys in his two under 69. The two men are at 14-under 199.
Thorbjorn Olesen is in fourth place at 13-under with scores of 65-67-68 so far this week. Sam Horsfield and Danny Willett are at 12-under while Thomas Aiken and Tommy Fleetwood are a further stroke adrift on the leaderboard.
Lucas Bjerregaard and Tom Lewis rounded off the top ten men going into Sunday in the company Kiradech Aphibarnrat. The flamboyant Thai star was even through the front nine, but he scored four birdies in seven holes after the turn to move up the order.
Shubhankar was disappointed with his one over 72 on Friday, having left several of putts marginally short on the greens. Determined to go higher up the order, Shubhankar played with enormous conviction in the third round to try and force his way up the order.
“This is a straightforward course. I need to play better from 150 yards out. The putting has been alright too, but I must admit that we are missing the lines a few times,” said an exasperated Shubhankar.
“I have nothing to lose tomorrow. So I can hopefully come in and shoot a low number to round out my week here. I will play two more weeks on the European Tour before heading back to Asia.
“I expect to have a more organised schedule next year. While I will try and continue to play as much as possible in the USA in order to gain a card on the PGA TOUR, Europe and Asia will continue to be the mainstay of my calendar.”
But despite staying clean through much of the round, he got soaked in the water at his final hole, the tenth. Shubhankar drove his tee ball into the water, forcing a drop to play his third. He reached the edge of the green and played a beautiful chip to set up a short bogey putt, but a stroke was lost nonetheless.
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