Sharma four ahead when Joburg Open play halted


JOHANNESBURG: Indian Shubhankar Sharma held a four-shot Joburg Open final-round lead Sunday (Monday in Manila) when rain, lightning and hail forced play to be abandoned for the day.

Play will resume at 0730 local time (0530 GMT) Monday with Sharma, who was halted at the eighth hole, strongly placed to win the tri-sanctioned European Tour, Asian Tour and South African Sunshine Tour event.

Sharma held a five-shot lead entering the final 18 holes and birdied two of the first seven holes at Randpark Golf Club in a Johannesburg suburb to reach 22 under par overall.

Eric van Rooyen, hoping to succeed fellow South African Darren Fichardt as champion, claimed four birdies over eight holes to lie second at 18 under for the tournament.

Shubhankar Sharma AFP PHOTO

Sharma, 21, and Van Rooyen, 27, are both seeking a maiden senior tour triumph.

“I’m going to treat it like another day,” said Sharma, referring to the tournament stretching to an unscheduled fifth day.

“I’m going to do the same things which I have been doing for the last four days.

“It is not frustrating, but you get into a groove when you start and you do not want to come off.

“I saw the clouds coming on the seventh hole and I was praying we could finish, but we cannot help it. I’m playing well so I want to continue doing that.

“I had to cancel my flight tickets today, but that was an easy thing to do considering the position I am in.”

James Morrison of England and Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland were 14 under after seven and eight holes respectively and seemingly out of contention for first place.

However, with the top three finishers securing places at the 2018 British Open in Carnoustie next July, both had everything to play for.

Should Sharma triumph, he will become only the fourth foreigner to win the Joburg Open after Argentine Ariel Canete, Dane Anders Hansen and Englishman Andy Sullivan.



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