08 November 2018: The young man is playing on fumes. Shubhankar Sharma is working on the strength of his grit and determination as he plays a seventh straight week of golf. He started the Nedbank Golf Challenge with a 74 that included three bogeys and a lone birdie. Sergio Garcia made it seem all too easy, as he romped through the round in just 64 strokes, without so much as a speck on his card.
Shubhankar began his day with six straight pars before succumbing at the par-3 seventh hole. The 122nd ranked Indian regained the loss with a nice birdie at the ninth hole. He must have hoped that it might afford him a bit of momentum right at the bend.
As it is, Shubhankar endured two bogeys in three holes, conceding strokes at the 12th and 14th holes. He came home from there without any further damage to account for a hard fought 74.
Garcia was three under already when he navigated the turn in 33 strokes. He flowed smoothly from there, making it four birdies in five holes, when he gained strokes at the 10th and 11th holes.
The Spaniard put his signature on the round with three more birdies, from 15th through the 17th in quick succession to account for his score. Garcia enjoys a four stroke advantage over Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Mikko Korhonen and Charl Schwartzel.
“It felt great,” said Garcia. “I rolled the ball nicely, I made some good putts here and there.
“It was one of those rounds where things happened nicely to me. I think I played very smart, I probably wasn’t swinging unbelievably but I kept it under control and kept the ball in play all the time which is difficult to do here.
“I managed to guess some of the winds here right and that is very, very difficult. When you can do that here, it’s nice to be able to shoot a score like this.”
Rory McIlroy is in South Africa seeking a good week ahead of the season ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. He will need to come back on Friday and look for that missing edge after a disappointing 72 in the opening round.
McIlroy was 3-under through the 13th hole, but ended up conceding a bogey at the next hole and a double at the 17th to blunt his effort.
Ashun Wu, Benjamin Hebert, Andy Sullivan, Matt Wallace, Jason Scrivener and Louis Oosthuizen completed the top ten with a 69 to their names.