It was not the kind of a start Shubhankar Sharma was looking for as he began his first round of the weather-disrupted 2023 Hero Dubai Desert Classic.
Due to start on Thursday afternoon, he finally got to tee off on Friday but after a promising start of 2-under through the first three holes, he finished 2-over 74 and was in danger of missing the cut.
He did get some respite with a birdie in the three holes of the second round he got to play before play was suspended due to fading light on Friday. Sharma is now 1-over through 21 holes at the Emirates Golf Club.
Richard Bland and Ian Poulter were tied at the top of the leader board reaching eight under par before the daylight ran out.
Angel Hidalgo was their nearest challenger on seven under, with Louis de Jager another shot further back alongside Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed, who will both start their second rounds on Saturday.
The tournament will now conclude on Monday, with the second round finishing on Saturday before the third and fourth rounds take place on Sunday and Monday respectively.
More than six hours were lost due to wet weather at Emirates Golf Club on day one, and after another delay on Friday, World Number One McIlroy finished his first round with a flourish.
He went birdie-eagle-birdie from the seventh to sign for an opening 66 and share the early clubhouse lead with Reed.
The second wave then got under way, with Swedish amateur Ludvig Aberg firing a 65 after recovering from a bogey at the first with eight birdies.
That saw the 23-year-old, who tops the World Amateur Golf Rankings, lead the way alongside Poulter at the end of the first round, but with round two commencing on Friday evening, it was not long before the leader board changed again.
Bland, who had shot a bogey-free 67 in his first round, opened the second round with three successive birdies to move to eight under, with Poulter birdieing the long third to join him.
Spaniard Hidalgo finished his first-round 66 with his only bogey but bounced back immediately with birdies on the first and third to climb to eight under before dropping a shot at the fourth.
Hidalgo said, “it was amazing. I didn’t start hitting the ball good but yeah, the birdie I made on 18 gave me a lot of confidence and I started playing so well on the back nine, and yeah, the last hole was really, really long.
He added, “Yeah, it was weird to see my surname and his surname (McIlroy) together on the leaderboard; it was pretty cool. That’s why I made bogey, to be close to him (laughing). Yeah, it was something, a good dream when you see him winning majors, so yeah, we played good today, and maybe why not play with him.”
McIlroy said, “Honestly not very good (about the first day’s 15 holes). I struggled out there most of yesterday. I thought did I well to be under par by the end of the day. I fought back after some very sloppy rusty golf over the first sort of 14 holes.
“And then yeah, today I came out and I don’t really know if anything clicked because I don’t think I hit enough shots to know. But it was definitely needed. Like I would have been happy with anything around 70 the way I played, and then to come in and shoot 66 is quite the bonus.
“Yeah, you know, I wouldn’t say I’m the best fairway bunker player in the world. The desert is a little nicer, it’s a little more packed down, so you get some better lies.
“All I was thinking about was catching it clean. My tendency out of those lies is to hit it a little bit heavy. As soon as I struck it, I knew it came out really nicely and it was right down the pin. Again, anything inside of 20 feet, I would have been happy with, so that was certainly a bonus.”