09 November 2019: The leaderboards at the Turkish Airlines Open are managed by volunteers, two to each board. And they were kept busy as bees all day as the top men raced against each other like crabs, seeking to carry a slender edge into the weekend. As a limited-field event, the week offers handsome rewards for the players, both in terms of ranking points as well as some handy earnings, in time for the Christmas break.
It was Matthias Schwab who emerged as the halfway leader, with a birdie on the final hole. The Austrian edged Ross Fisher, Danny Willett, Thomas Detry and Alex Noren into the second spot, moving to a lonely perch at the top. Schwab is at 12-under through 36 holes. The four men behind him are all locked at 11-under 133.
Schwab’s birdie also pushed Shubhankar Sharma into T11. The Indian spent much of the day inside the top ten with a brilliant bogey-free 64 helping him to a healthy 9-under 135.
“I think I scored well today,” said Schwab. “I wasn’t really hitting them great at all, especially early on, but I kept it together. I think I’ll have to play aggressive golf and keep the foot on the gas pedal, pars will definitely not be enough this weekend.”
Robert MacIntyre shot the round of the day – an error-free 63, in stark contrast to a 71 yesterday which included four bogeys. Justin Harding was seven-under on the day while Shubhankar was eight-under during the second round.
Interestingly, Shubhankar is second behind Alex Noren (3.28) in strokes gained approach, an indication of the glorious standards of his iron-play when the young man is on a song. He is reading a healthy 3.23 strokes gained with the next man on the list, Tyrrell Hatton at 2.38
Only the top 50 play in the final event of the European Tour calendar. The DP World Tour Championship will crown the champion next week Sunday. Shubhankar is currently in the 81st place on the Race to Dubai, but good results this week and then in the Nedbank Challenge could help him squeeze space for himself.
So the stage is set for an intriguing weekend, with Shubhankar a mere three strokes behind the leader.