Shubhankar on top at World Golf Championships

Mexico City, March 3 (IANS) Indias Shubhankar Sharma upstaged the games biggest stars when he shot to the top of the leaderboard at the $10 million World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship after a brilliant five-under 66 gave him a two-shot lead here.

The 21-year-old, who is the youngest competitor in the elite field, started his round in glorious fashion on Friday with an eagle at the par-4 first hole and then signed off his second round in style with three closing birdies, much to the delight of the Mexican fans at the Golf Club de Chapultepec.

With his two-day total of 11-under 131, Sharma finds himself in dreamland as he leads the likes of reigning Masters Tournament champion Sergio Garcia (65), 2017 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year, Xander Schauffele (68) and Rafa Cabrera Bello (67), who share second place on 133.

Defending champion and World No.1 Dustin Johnson fired a 66 for a share of fifth place, four off the lead, with amongst others, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who battled to a 69, Bubba Watson, who returned a 66 and Pat Perez, who shot a 67.

Sharma has burst onto the scene following two victories in co-sanctioned Asian Tour and European Tour events in South Africa and Malaysia over the past three months.

In what is his WGC and PGA TOUR debut, the son of a retired army colonel has been impressive with his stunning performance after two rounds.

“I’m really happy. I couldn’t be in a better situation. Played so well, and the bogeys that I made today were just three putts. Otherwise I just got the ball in play all day and it was great to finish with three birdies in a row,” Sharma said.

“I thought about nothing, I just wanted to have fun. It’s my first WGC and I was happy that I’ll play four days because I missed the cut in the last two events that I played. Even though I missed the cuts, I knew I was playing well. So I just wanted to have fun, and yeah, I’ve had a lot of fun.”

He began his day in style, hammering a three-wood 320 yards down towards the first green which saw the ball ending two feet from the hole for a tap-in eagle.

Successive bogeys on the second and third holes saw the Indian make the turn in 35 before coming home strongly with birdies on 11, 12, 16, 17 and 18. His longest birdie putt was from 24 feet on 12 while the other birdies were from inside of 10 feet.

“I worked all my life to come and play at a high stage like this. You have to expect great things from yourself if you want to play at a high stage,” Sharma said.

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