Shubhankar Sharma of India kept his emotions in check and carded an even-par 72 to grab a share of the lead with England’s Matt Wallace at the US$1.75 million Hero Indian Open on Saturday.

The 21-year-old stayed patient throughout the entire round. Sharma, a two-time Asian Tour winner, dropped five shots today which included a double bogey at the 17th hole. But, responded with five birdies to get to the top of the leaderboard on seven-under-par 209 at the DLF Golf and Country Club.

Wallace carded a 70 to share first place with Sharma. He scored an eagle and four birdies against four bogeys. The pair will go into Sunday with a one-shot lead over Stephen Gallacher of Scotland, who is in lone third place after carding a 67.

Emiliano Grillo of Argentina, the halfway leader, had a day to forget as he signed for a 78. He is in tied-fourth with Austria’s Matthias Schwab (68) and England’s Andrew Johnston (73).

Crowd favourite Johnston was scrambling throughout Saturday. The Englishman did not score any birdies but kept pace with the leaders with an eagle on the fourth hole, as well as numerous up-and-downs and long putts for pars. 

Sihwan Kim of the United States adopted an aggressive, yet calculated approach to card a 72. He is in tied-seven and just three shots behind the leaders along with Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal.

Did you know:

  • Shubhankar Sharma is the highest-ranked player in the field. He is 66th on the Official World Golf Ranking list.
  • Before his win in Johannesburg, Sharma’s best result in 2017 was tied-fourth at the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open 2017.
  • Sharma finished seventh on the 2017 Asian Tour Order of Merit. Last year, he earned US$381,149.
  • He won the All India Amateur Championship at the age of 16 and he was India’s number one junior prior to turning professional in 2013.
  • Matt Wallace enjoyed a wire-to-wire victory at the 2017 Open de Portugal at Morgado Golf Resort, a European Tour event.
  • He uses Manchester United mascot as a driver cover.
  • Wallace won five times in five consecutive starts on the Alps Tour, developmental professional golf tour based in Continental Europe.
  • Emiliano Grillo is a big fan of football team River Plate and he catches the games at the stadium if his schedule permits.
  • He was an accomplished junior golfer. For one, Grillo won the prestigious Callaway Junior World Golf Championships in 2009.
  • His best finish on the European Tour is second, at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in 2014.
  • Andrew Johnston is a one-time winner on the European Tour. He won the Real Club Valderrama Open de España, hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation in 2016.
  • Sihwan Kim enjoyed three top-10 finishes on the Asian Tour in 2017. He was tied-ninth at the Leopalace21 Myanmar Open 2017, eighth at the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open and tied-sixth at the Indonesian Masters.
  • He finished 56th on last year’s Asian Tour Order of Merit, securing his card for the 2018 season.
  • Only nine players broke par in round three of the Hero Indian Open.

Player interviews:

Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) Third Round 72 (even-par), Total 209 (-7)

It was very windy today. The first two days were surprisingly calm. The course played really tough and I’m very happy with a 72. It was a mixed bag as everything happened. I holed out at the second, made a few good birdies and got a bad bounce on the 17th. I’m very pleased with the birdie at the last, which allowed me to grab a share of the lead. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

At the second hole, where I holed out, I had a bad lie in the bunker. It was downslope and I didn’t want to duff it, as I’ll have no chance of an up-and-down if that happened. I caught it just on the ball which went over. The ball just came out three yards in front and it went to the centre of the cup.  At the fifth hole, as soon as I hit it, I knew I had a birdie chance.

I kept telling my caddie that this is our home course. You can’t overpower this course. So, I told myself, just hang in there. I will hit a few bad shots and I understand that it’s all part of the game. You just have to stay patient.

I was one-under-par after nine holes, which was crucial. I’m happy to be able to come back with birdies on seven and eight. The birdie on 10th was fantastic as the hole was played off the back tees. I have always played the 10th from the front tee box.

I made a few bad swings coming in, got a bad bounce on the 17th, but other than that, I think I played pretty solidly.

I smashed my driver on the 18th. I’m happy that I had a short club in. It was a pretty easy chip from the greenside rough. Even though I didn’t hit the chip perfectly, the ball still rolled next to the pin and I’m happy to make that putt.

I’m just looking forward to playing out there again. I just want to have fun. It’s the second week in the row I’m in the leading group. I’m going to draw from my experiences last week. I know it’s going to be a battle out there tomorrow and I’ll be ready for it.

Matt Wallace (Eng) Third Round 70 (-2), Total 209 (-7)

It was hard. I played really nice. That 17th hole was brutal today. I mean, we all played it differently and managed to find ourselves in the same position. I hit a lob wedge in there and couldn’t hold the green, so yeah, it was tough. The wind was gusting around in different directions. I’m pretty happy with my score.

Every hole is a test. Like I said yesterday, every hole is a double bogey waiting to happen. I just took every hole as it came and played it as well as possible. That eagle on nine was probably the highlight of my week, and year, so far.

I’m very happy. There are some brilliant players up there on the leaderboard. You know, there is going to be a charge tomorrow and someone is going to play well. I just have to go out there and try to execute like I did today and see how it goes.

I’m going to rock up tomorrow and do the same as I’ve done all week. It’s such a hard golf course that you have got to play well. I’ll try to get a good night of sleep tonight and go from there.

Andrew Johnston (Eng) Third Round 73 (+1), Total 211 (-5)

My round was not too bad. I felt that I didn’t played too well today, but I scrambled really well. I made a lot of good up and downs. It was not my best golf but being one-over-par still hasn’t put me out of the tournament. So, it was a good day.

You see the scoreboard and see a lot of people going backwards. The pins were tricky and the winds picked up. You just have to be patient. I made a chip-in for eagle and no birdies the whole round. It was a lot of scrambling. I made a lot of six to 10 footers for par.

I was happy to be level par after three holes. I hit two lovely shots at the fourth, and I hit a chip shot that went in, so happy days!

Being three off the lead is good!

In the final round, you have to wait and see where the pins and things like that and take it from there. You have to play your own game. If I have a day like yesterday (when he carded 66) tomorrow, then we’ll see what happens.

Sihwan Kim (Usa), Round three 72, Total 212 (-4)

Not bad. I made a few errors coming in. It was tough out there so I’m happy with the results. It was a grind out there. Whoever grinds better will win the tournament. You can’t get defensive on this course. You have to be aggressive but know where to miss it, what’s ok and what’s bad.

There were some good pin positions today. There were some that were challenging, but it was the same for everyone. Every green has a place where you can put it for birdie.

For tomorrow, we’ll see. I’ll just keep on playing aggressively and see how it goes.

I had two chip-ins. Those were on sixth and 16th. With the wind, I couldn’t get anything close to the hole. Those two chip-ins helped my round immensely.


Scores after round 3 of the Hero Indian Open 2018 being played at the par 72, 7379 Yards DLF GcC course (am – denotes amateur):

209 – Matt WALLACE (ENG) 69-70-70, Shubhankar SHARMA (IND) 73-64-72.

210 – Stephen GALLACHER (SCO) 72-71-67.

211 – Matthias SCHWAB (AUT) 71-72-68, Andrew JOHNSTON (ENG) 72-66-73, Emiliano GRILLO (ARG) 65-68-78.

212 – Sihwan KIM (USA) 70-70-72, Pablo LARRAZABAL (ESP) 67-71-74.

213 – Aaron RAI (ENG) 71-73-69, Ricardo GOUVEIA (POR) 69-73-71, Paul PETERSON (USA) 67-73-73.

214 – Hideto TANIHARA (JPN) 74-68-72, Joost LUITEN (NED) 71-69-74.

215 – Clement SORDET (FRA) 72-72-71, Steven BROWN (ENG) 74-71-70, Jinho CHOI (KOR) 72-71-72, Jamie DONALDSON (WAL) 71-70-74, Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 69-70-76.

216 – Anthony WALL (ENG) 71-73-72, Jarin TODD (USA) 72-74-70, Sebastien GROS (FRA) 69-71-76.

217 – CHAN Shih-chang (TPE) 71-71-75, Gavin GREEN (MAS) 69-73-75, Casey O’TOOLE (USA) 74-66-77, Danthai BOONMA (THA) 71-76-70.

218 – Gregory HAVRET (FRA) 73-72-73, Ajeetesh SANDHU (IND) 68-76-74, Jeunghun WANG (KOR) 69-71-78, Jens DANTORP (SWE) 69-70-79.

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