By V. Krishnaswamy, one of India’s leading sports writers, who has covered over 20 Majors and 250 international golf tournaments. Follow him on Twitter via @Swinging_Swamy.
Rome, October 13: A disastrous back nine resulted in a sharp slip down the leaderboard for Shubhankar Sharma, who carded one-over-par 72 and dropped from tied-third to tied-13th at the end of the third round of the Italian Open, the fifth event in the European Tour’s Rolex Series.
Sharma’s fellow Indian, S.S.P. Chawrasia (75) also had a rough day and is now tied-65th.
American Kurt Kitayama, who has in the midst of a super season, during which he has already won twice shot a bogey free 65 to jump to 12-under-par and was one shot shy of England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick, who staged an impressive fightback with four birdies in his final six holes to maintain his one shot lead going into the final round.
Korea’s Wang Jeung-hun (64) rose to tied-seventh at eight-under-par, while Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee (71) was tied-28th, South Africa’s Justin Harding (73) tied-59th.
Sharma, who was playing very well in first two rounds, was two-under through the front nine after making up for a bogey on second with three birdies on the fourth, fifth and ninth holes.
On the back-nine he bogeyed 10 and 11 and just when it looked like he might make a par after a birdie on the par-3 16th, he bogeyed the par-five 17th and Par-four 18th to finish with a 72.
Kitayama, a one-time Asian Tour winner, who had six birdies including both the par-fives, was three under for either half and played solid.
He said, “It was a good day. I missed a few greens but was able to get up-and-down and made some good putts. Playing bogey-free is always good, especially out here.
“I feel like I’ve been in pretty good control of my irons. My driver today was better. This is a big event. Winning at any level, even smaller events, you still have to draw back on those memories and those situations, because the feeling is still going to be similar. Winning’s winning. So just go out and do the same tomorrow.”
Fitzpatrick has finished runner up three times so far this season and is seeking a sixth European Tour title to extend his winning run to five consecutive seasons.
He was one-over par for his third round with a further bogey on the tenth hole. But he rallied with birdies on the 13th, 15th, 16th and 17th holes to sign for a round of 68 to get to 13-under par.
Sharma ties in third place with Rose and McDowell at Italian Open
By V. Krishnaswamy
Rome, October 12: Shubhankar Sharma overcame his up-and-down ride in the closing stages to birdie two of his final three holes to card two-under 69 on the second day at the Italian Open. The 23-year-old Sharma, a two-time winner on the Asian Tour, is now seven-under and tied-third at the Olgiata Golf Club.
Sharma had six birdies with two dropped shots and a double bogey for a 69.
SSP Chawrasia, who shot three-over 74 in the first round was fighting back and was four-under through 10 holes and was now one-under through 28 holes. He was now inside the cut line which looked likely at Par.
Gaganjeet Bhullar however was likely to exit early as he was three-over through nine holes in second round after a first round 74 to get to a total of six-over.
Among those sharing the third place with Sharma was World No. 5, Justin Rose, who also carded 69. Graeme McDowell (66), Rhory Sabbatini (70) and Andrew Johnston (68) were also ar seven-under in Tied-third. It was a strong bunch with two US Open winners in Rose and McDowell, besides which Rose also an Olympic gold medal.
Right at the top was Matthew Fitzpatrick (67-65) who fired a six under par 65 to edge one shot clear of Denmark’s Joachim B. Hansen (67-66) at the halfway mark.
Sharma starting from the tenth bogeyed the 11thbut fought back with birdies on 13th, 15thand 17th. He was then hit by a double on 18thto fall back to even par for the day. A bogey on third pushed him over par, but birdies on fourth, seventh and ninth meant he was back in business at two-under for the day and seven-under for 36 holes.
Kurt Kitayama (66-70) was Tied-eighth, while Thongchai Jaidee (69-70) was T-28thwith Finn Kalle Samooja (70-69) and Kiradech Aphibarnrat (69-75) missed the cut at two-over. Also missing the cut was Gavin Green ((71-75). First round leader, Tapio Pulkkanen (64-72) slipped to Tied-8th.
Home favourite Francesco Molinari, the 2018 Open Champion, carded a five over par round of 76 to miss the cut by five shots, while Shane Lowry (72-71), the 2019 Open winner, also failed to make it to the weekend.