Indian golfer Shubhankar Sharma fired a spectacular eight-under 64 in the second round to grab a share of the third spot and put himself in title contention at the USD seven million CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.
Sharma, who ended the first round with five birdies on his second nine, added nine birdies and a bogey on the second day to put himself in contention for the PGA Tour title. Earlier this year, Sharma took halfway lead and then into the final round at WGC-Mexico, where he finally finished T-9.
Sharma shares the third place with Paul Casey (66-65) at 13-under, and they are one behind co-leaders, American Gary Woodland (69-61), who equalled the course record with 11-under and Australian Marc Leishman (68-62) who also got into double digits at 10-under for the day. They were 14-under for shared lead.
India’s other contenders this week were quite some distance behind, as Gaganjeet Bhullar, the 2018 Fiji International winner, went on shot better than his first 70 and scored 69. At five-under 139, he is T-136, as he seeks to better his best in the event – T-10 at 2012 edition.
Anirban Lahiri incurred a two-shot penalty on Par-3 11th and scored a triple on the hole, as he scored 74 and is now 2-over 146 and T-73rd. Rahil Gangjee (77-71) was 4-over and 77th.
Sharma, who played the back nine at the TPC Kuala Lumpur, which was very dry despite heavy rain on Wednesday, had three birdies in his first nine holes and then added six more birdies against one solitary bogey on second, which came after a wayward drive off the tee.
“It was almost like I woke up after the front nine yesterday. I didn’t really have the best of starts, but the next 27 holes after that have been really good,” Sharma said.
Sharma started from 10th and birdied 10th, 16th and 18th and then added a fourth on first. His sole blemish was on second, his 11th hole. Then he had five birdies over next nine, including three in a row from third to fifth.
“I was in a kind of a zone. I just feel like all the players playing at this level are at a very high level. On a course like this when they get going, they will go really low and I just feel like even I belong in that league,” he said.
Bhullar picked up just two bogeys but he has also missed a lot of birdie putts. He has had only seven birdies, as he is 5-under for 36 holes.
Lahiri not only had problems putting, but also had a triple on Par-3 11th as he grounded his club on the stone (in the hazard) without realizing. He was on the edge of the water and he came out with a bogey and the penalty turned it into a triple.
He had birdies on second, third and seventh, but a bogey on eighth saw him finish at 74 and two-over and T-73.
“It was one of those days, when nothing worked,” said Lahiri.
Bronson Burgoon (63-69), who led after the first round was T-5th with Austin Cook (64-68) and Scott Piercy (65-67) at 12-under.