Sharma starts with 74 as weather forces Hero Dubai Desert Classic to Monday finish

NewsDrum Desk
27 Jan 2023

Dubai, Jan 27 (PTI) Shubhankar Sharma, who had to wait for a full day to begin his campaign due to bad weather, couldn't hold on to a fine start as he finished with a disappointing two-over 74 at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic on the DP World Tour here on Friday.

Sharma lost momentum after being two-under from three holes and will have to put in a lot of work to make the cut even as the organisers confirmed a Monday finish for the USD 9 million event.

The clubhouse lead was shared by two veteran Englishmen, the 49-year-old Richard Bland, who shot 67 in the first and opened the second with three straight birdies and eight-under after 22 holes. He was joined by the 47-year-old Ian Poulter, who after finishing his first round of 65, was one-under through three holes in the second.

Angel Hidalgo, 66, in first round was one-under through two holes in second, to be seven-under, while Louis de Jager, Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed were all at six-under. Only De Jager had played two holes in the second round.

Meanwhile, the loss of six hours and five minutes on the first day was further followed by the loss of three hours before start on Friday and an early stop due to threat of lightning meant a little less than nine hours have been lost.

This has forced play to be carried on to the fifth day with the third round likely to be a one-tee start and the fourth and final round is likely to be a two-tee start to keep a buffer and to guarantee against a possible play-off.

Only 12 players had finished their first round on Thursday and when play was called off on Friday earlier than scheduled due to thundery showers, the second round was barely two hours gone and no player had reached the turn.

Sharma, coming into the event on the back of a superb Top-7 finish in Abu Dhabi, opened strongly with a birdie on the first and third but dropped back-to-back bogeys on fifth and sixth and turned in even par.

A birdie to start the back nine raised hopes only to be dashed by frequent visits to the bunkers and he dropped a shot each on 12th, 14th and 17th.

It was not the best days with the irons for Sharma as he did not get close looks at birdies often enough. But within 30 minutes of finishing his first round, Sharma was back at the tenth tee to start the second round and he began with a birdie to raise hopes of a better round.

He was now one-over through 21 holes with the cut currently projected at 1-under.

When the first round finally ended late in the afternoon on Friday, the lead was being shared by the 23-year-old World Amateur No. Ludvig Aberg of Sweden and the 47-year-old English veteran Ian Poulter, both of whom shot 65 each.

Meanwhile in the morning, Rory McIlroy coming back to play his remaining three holes from the first round, finished birdie-eagle-birdie for a card of 6-under 66.

He was joined by Patrick Reed, 24-year-old Spaniard Angel Hidalgo and the 32-year-old South African Louis de Jager.

Just as McIlroy was closing his fine run, Reed had an eagle on 18th almost at the same time as the World no. 1 had a closing birdie on ninth on the double green. PTI Cor ATK ATK

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