15 August 2021: Rasmus Højgaard marched into a commanding three-shot lead at the Cazoo Classic after the 20-year-old produced a magnificent course record 62 at London Golf Club to move into pole position for a third European Tour title. Shubhankar Sharma binged on birdies on the forward nine, before posting a 68 in the third round.
Shubhankar made five birdies in eight holes pf the front nine, as he looked set to bring home a substantial round on moving day. The Indian continued playing some solid golf, adding birdies at the 12th and 16th, moving to 9-under and inside the top ten. But a double on the 18th dampened an otherwise exciting day of golf. At 7-under through 54 holes, Shubhankar is in T19 with four other golfers.
The Kent venue, which was the first course to become a European Tour Destination back in 2010, has a strong history of hosting big tournaments and many great players have graced its fairways, including Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy and Colin Montgomerie.
But the gifted young Dane, who won twice in 2020 including at the Belfry in the ISPS HANDA UK Championship, went lower than any of them could on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Heritage Course with a flawless ten under round.
Højgaard finished with back-to-back birdies to set a new course record – beating the previous record of 63 set by Ross Fisher at the 2008 European Open – and move to a 14 under total, storming into a three-stroke lead from six shots back at the beginning of the day.
The closest challengers heading into the final round are Scot Calum Hill, who shared the leading heading into the final day at last week’s Hero Open before losing out to compatriot Grant Forrest, and Jordan Smith, who was the third round leader at the previous week’s ISPS HANDA World Invitational presented by Modest! Golf Management.
“I didn’t have any clue what the course record was. I knew I was probably around it but I didn’t know what it was,” said Hojgaard.
“First of all, I drove the ball way better today that I did in the first couple of days. So I was putting myself in position and I could be aggressive from the fairway, holed putts from everywhere basically and then I had a spell on the back nine where I was really stressed. We were on the clock so I probably rushed a couple of shots but then I finished strongly so I’m very happy.
“I think if you drive the ball well here you can shoot a good score so that’s the main focus tomorrow. If you get it on the fairway you just take it from there but it’s pretty straight-forward when you’re in the fairway, so I think that will be the key, to drive it well.”
They both carded rounds of 70 to move to 11 under par, one shot ahead of Richard Bland – a winner on English soil earlier this year at the Betfred British Masters – and his fellow Englishman Dale Whitnell.
Frenchman Victor Perez, who is targeting a late push into contention for a place on Pádraig Harrington’s European Ryder Cup team, is one of five players in a share of sixth position on nine under.