Sharma claims second win of 2018
Sharma wins again and can’t wait for Carnoustie.
Watch this space - Shubhankar Sharma is a star on a rapid rise. He’s only made 13 starts on the European Tour but he’s missed just one cut and now won twice.
After his breakthrough win at the Joburg Open in December, the 21-year-old Indian produced another attention-grabbing victory at the Maybank Championship in Malaysia, not a bad way to rally from missing out at last year’s Q-School. He only made the cut by a shot but fired rounds of 66 and 62 over the weekend to storm through the field - thanks to five birdies in the last eight holes - at the Saujana Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur.
That secured a 21-under par score that edged out Spain’s Jorge Campillo by two shots. New Zealand’s Ryan Fox and Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal tied for third, a further shot back.
Jyoti Randhawa’s tie for 24th at Royal Troon in 2004 remains the best performance by an Indian player at The Open - but Sharma will be hoping to change all that in Carnoustie. Sharma will make his Open debut, thanks to his win at The Open Qualifying Series event in South Africa. And he claimed the relief of finally securing the spot means he’s now playing with the pressure off and confidence surging.
“That win in Johannesburg helped me a lot and the last two months have changed my life,” he said. “The way I played there gave me a lot of confidence, I was not under any pressure. I was a few groups ahead and no one was really watching me. The way I finished was fantastic, nothing went wrong.” Sharma’s success in Malaysia should now also secure his place in the WGC-Mexico. “I’m so excited for the weeks to come,” he added. “A lot of doors will open for me now.”
Emotional Woodland ends long wait for title
Gary Woodland held his nerve to claim his first victory in five years at the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Woodland shot a final-round 64 to secure up a play-off with Chez Reavie, which he won at the first extra hole. Rickie Fowler was leading after the third round but he couldn’t close out his fifth Tour win in his 200th start, blaming his form on the greens. “I just couldn’t putt and that’s one of the best clubs in my bag,” he said. “Nothing seemed to drop on the back nine and that’s a big letdown.”
The same could not be said of Phil Mickelson, who hasn’t won since lifting the Claret Jug at Muirfield five years ago. He drained putts on 15, 16 and 17 to ignite a late charge - finishing in a tie for fifth. “It was fun to be in contention again and I had a great time coming down the stretch,” he said. The 16th hole, packed with 20,000 spectators is the signature at Scottsdale, and last year’s Open runner-up Matt Kuchar came within an inch of an ace in a highlight of the final round.
Spieth blames putter for first missed cut in eight months
After a run of 15 consecutive cuts made in worldwide starts, Champion Golfer Jordan Spieth had a week to forget in Phoenix. Spieth arrived as the tournament favourite, having banked two top tens in his previous appearances on the Stadium Course. But he endured a tough week to miss his first weekend since the AT&T Byron Nelson in May. He was level par through two rounds to miss the cut by a shot, blaming a faulty putter for the performance, three-putting three times over the two days. However, the world number three is determined to play his way back into form, defending his title at this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
World number five Hideki Matsuyama was another to struggle at TPC Scottsdale. Seeking a third consecutive win at the event he withdrew after the second round with a wrist injury. “I decided that it was not worth forcing myself to continue to play,” he said. “As much as I wanted to continue to play and with the three-peat in mind, the pain was just too much.”