Sharma soars to top in Mexico

Arnold Nichols
March 5, 2018

At 7-under 135, Kiradech shares fifth place with amongst others, defending champion and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, double Masters Tournament victor Bubba Watson and CIMB Classic champion Pat Perez, four back of halfway leader Shubhankar Sharma of India.

He was at 11-under 131, two shots ahead of Masters champion Sergio Garcia (65), Xander Schauffele (68) and Rafa Cabrera Bello (67).

Leader Louis Oosthuizen headed Xander Schauffele, Sharma and Chris Paisley by a stroke on a day when defending champion Dustin Johnson hit a 69 that included a near ace at the 17th, his ball landing beyond the pin and spinning back nearly into the hole.

Despite recent victories in South Africa and Malaysia, and leading the European Tour's Race to Dubai standings, Sharma has yet to qualify for the first major of the year. "I'm really happy I'm playing at such a high level with all the great players out there. I expected to play well", the 21-year-old told Golf Channel.

"It's really been an experience and I just topped it off by playing well in the first two days so I'm really happy with everything".

Despite missing the cut by one stroke in Oman and Qatar over the past fortnight, Sharma produced a flawless display which his caddie Gurbaaz Mann, a former Asian Tour player himself, described as "complete".

"Everything has happened so fast for me", Sharma said.

Sharma hit a 3-wood on his opening tee shot to 2 feet for a tap-in eagle and overcame consecutive three-putt bogeys.

"I just kept the ball in play throughout the day", Sharma said. "Kept the ball in the fairway and gave myself the most opportunities".

Reigning Masters champion Garcia fired a bogey-free 65 that included a 22-foot eagle putt at the par-5 11th and a 16-foot birdie at 18 to grab a share of second place.

"I'm very confident with my driver at the moment", Oosthuizen said.

"I hit the ball well".

Sharma intends to keep his foot on the pedal despite being in his first WGC tournament which is featuring 45 of the world's top-five players this week.

"I feel like as a Hispanic and a Latino, I want to help out this community", Rahm said.

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