World Golf Championships: Shubhankar maintains lead after 3rd round

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Mexico City, March 4 (IANS) Young Indian prospect Shubhankar Sharma bravely maintained his overnight two-shot lead following the third round of the $10 million World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship here.

The 21-year-old Sharma ground out a two-under 69 which included a clutch 13-foot par save on the 18th hole at the Club de Golf Chapultepec here on Saturday as he held off the likes of Phil Mickelson (65), Tyrrell Hatton (64), Sergio Garcia (69) and Rafa Cabrera Bello (69) on Saturday.

World number 1 and defending champion Dustin Johnson shot a 68 to share sixth place, three behind Sharma, who was literally taken the world by storm with a measured and composed performance this week.

With so much at stake where a victory over the game’s top stars will be worth $1.7 million in prize money, an exemption onto the PGA TOUR through the 2020-21 season, 550 FedExCup points and starts in almost every major championship including THE PLAYERS Championship this season, the talented Indian is looking forward to the final round.

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Obviously a dream come true for me to be playing in this tournament and obviously leading, that’s just fantastic.

“Really happy with the way I played today, stuck in there,” said Sharma, who is making his debut appearance in the World Golf Championships.

“I made a few mistakes on the greens but the greens are tough this week so I think everyone’s making a few mistakes. I wasn’t too hard on myself. Very, very happy that I could grind out a par on the last hole,” he added.

Sharma broke through with his maiden victory at the Joburg Open in December and followed up with another triumph at the Maybank Championship in Malaysia last month where he came from four shots back to win with a closing 62.

In his biggest test yet, the current number 1 on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai and Asian Tour’s Habitat for Humanity standings will be grouped with five-time major winner Mickelson and England’s Hatton as he bids to become the youngest player to win a World Golf Championships tournament and only the second Asian after Hideki Matsuyama of Japan to do so.

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“It will be a lot of fun. Obviously Phil is a legend in the game of golf and I’ve seen him on TV for as many years as I can remember. You know, I met him for the first time today and it’s great that I’m paired with him tomorrow. It will be a lot of fun,” Sharma said.

–IANS

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