Feb 1, 2017: Young Indian Shubhankar Sharma rode on his recent run of good form to sign for a superb seven-under-par 64, grabbing a share of the opening round lead with Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand at the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open on Wednesday.
The 20-year-old Indian, who finished third on his own in the last edition, fired nine birdies against two bogeys to lead by two shots alongside 21-year-old Jazz, who was equally impressive with one eagle and six birdies against a bogey, at the Kurmitola Golf Club.
Panuphol Pittayarat of Thailand carded a 66 to sit in third place while Singapore’s Koh Deng Shan lurks three shots off the pace in fourth following a 67 at the US$300,000 event, which is the third leg of the Asian Tour schedule this season.
Buoyed by a tied-11th and a tied-ninth finishes in Singapore and Myanmar respectively over the last two weeks, Shubhankar, placed 10th on the current Order of Merit, hopes to ride high on his confidence and push for a breakthrough win this week.
Jazz, playing in his first Asian Tour event this season, was thrilled to get off to a flying start. He is seeking a good result this week to redeem himself from the disappointment of losing his Tour card after finishing 63rd on the Merit rankings last season.
Singapore’s Mardan Mamat, who won the tournament two years ago, returned with a 72 while Indian star Jeev Milkha Singh carded a 74. Local hero Siddikur Rahman, a two-time winner on the Asian Tour, battled to a 71 to tie in 29th position.
Interesting facts of the day:
- Shubhankar’s third place finish in the last edition was his best result on the Asian Tour since joining the play-for-pay ranks in 2013.
- Shubhankar fired a commanding 10-under-par 62 in the final round of the 2016 Resorts World Manila Masters last November to finish tied-fourth in the event. The result propelled him to 51st on the final Order of Merit, allowing him to keep his card for 2017.
- Jazz had two chip-ins in the round, one for eagle on seventh and one for birdie on 12. He navigated his way around the course with only 25 putts.
- Panuphol, nicknamed ‘Coconut’, turned professional at a young age of 14 and has successfully kept his full card every year since breaking through at Qualifying School in 2011.
- Koh, who is playing on a sponsors’ invite this week, is the mentee of Singaporean veteran Mardan Mamat, who won his fifth Asian Tour title at the inaugural Bashundhara Bangladesh Open in 2015.