Abu Dhabi Jan 22 (PTI) India's Shubhankar Sharma shot a 69 on the final day, and with a total of 13-under, he finished tied seventh in the the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championships here on Sunday.
Sharma was on fire in the first six holes with two birdies and an eagle and a close look at another birdie. He lost momentum on the seventh hole, missing a short two-and-a-half foot birdie and gave away a bogey on the eighth. But he hung in to close with a birdie for a 69.
Summing up the week, Sharma, who was second in Abu Dhabi last year, said, "So, all in all to sum it up, good four days... a top-10 finish. Will go again next week. It gives me a lot of confidence. It was the first event of the season and I know all the mistakes I made this week. For the next week, it's a good benchmark to build on for the the rest of the season. I'm happy that I was consistent." Frenchman Victor Perez, who scored three-and-a-half points out of four in last week's Hero Cup, held on for the title in a dramatic finish.
Two shots ahead at the 18th tee, Perez had a rough finish on the Par-5 18th as he flirted with danger and came out with a bogey. Minutes later in the group, overnight co-leader Australia's Min Woo Lee almost holed his third shot for an unlikely eagle that would have put him in a play-off with Perez.
Perez finished the round 4-under 68 and a total of 18-under, as Lee was tied for second with Swede Sebastian Soderberg (67) at 17-under.
Sharma, who was followed by a huge number of Indian fans, left a birdie short on first, but drilled a brilliant second shot on the second to inside three feet for his only eagle of the week. He followed up with superb second shots, which had been a little iffy a day earlier, for the next few holes. He was rewarded with birdies on fifth and sixth.
Then came the blip that may well have changed the course of the tournament for him. After coming out of the bunker very well with a great third shot, he missed a two-and-a-half footer for birdie. Then he dropped a shot on the eighth, when he left himself too long a putt for par.
Summing up his round, Sharma said, "It was an up-and-down round. Obviously got off to a flyer with an eagle on the second and two good birdies on five and six. The momentum changer for me was the seventh where I had a two-and-a-half putt for birdie left to right. I had a shadow over the putt. Then the bogey on the eighth." He added, "Those two holes were the momentum changers and the bad drive on the 11th was the worst shot of the week. It wasn't easy on the back nine, it was quite windy." "Still happy that I held on from the 13th. I made a good birdie on 13. The 16th was playing really tough, had a bogey there but gave myself good opportunities at 17 and made a good birdie on 18th." Perez won in dramatic fashion. Leading by two at one stage, he was in the bunker on the 17th and staring at a possible bogey. Then he pulled off a stunner.
"It wasn't actually as difficult as a bunker shot because it was downhill to the hole, flat at the hole and into the wind. I was trying to hit all the way to the hole. PTI Cor AM SSC SSC