Darren Clarke looks to be comfortably inside the cut-mark after play was suspended due to bad light on day two of the Hero Indian Open.
Clarke has increased his schedule considerably of late in a bid to rediscover some of the form that won him a first Major Championship at the British Open back in 2011.
So far that journey of self-rediscovery has been an elusive battle but there’s been sprouts of hope in the desert and he looks set for another push in the right direction this week.
With the cut projected at plus three with just nine players left to complete their second rounds on the tough Gary Player Course at DLF Golf and Country Club, Clarke looks safe on plus one having added a 73 to yesterday’s even par effort.
It was a quiet day for the former Ryder Cup captain as he posted just the one birdie alongside two dropped shots but in tied 35th position he’s in great shape for a decent weekend finish.
The day belonged to man of the moment and local hero, Shubhankar Sharma, who put on a sublime display to set the new course record at DLF Golf and Country Club and pile the pressure on leader Emiliano Grillo heading into round three at the Hero Indian Open.
Argentinian Grillo seemed to have put himself into a commanding position at the close of the morning session, recording a four under par round of 68 to get to 11 under par. Although he retains a four shot lead, a charging Sharma will be hot on his heels when they tee off together after the resumption of round two on Saturday.
Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex leader Sharma – who represents DLF Golf and Country Club – posted nine birdies and a solitary bogey in a course record 64 to get to seven under par, bettering Grillo’s record-equalling round of 65 yesterday.
“Today’s round will definitely rank up there as one of my most significant achievements, especially when it is played at this course,” said the Indian. “This is a tough course and it is not easy to go low here. I’m very happy with the way I played. I’ve shot a few low numbers in my career and this one is right in my top five.”
“If you told me I would be seven-under-par going into the weekend after being five-over-par on my opening nine holes (10th to 18th) yesterday, I would just have laughed. To be able to bounce back is really important, I knew I was playing well and I had to push myself a little. In the morning, I told myself that I have momentum on my side. I just need to foot on the pedal and keep on going.”
Sharma’s surge was all the more remarkable considering he was five over after his first nine holes on Thursday, and drew praise from his playing partner, England’s Andrew Johnston, who is one shot back at six under par, alongside Spaniard Pablo Larrazábal.
“Shubhankar is great to play with, he’s such a nice bloke,” said the burly Beef. “We got on really well. I said next time he’s over in London I’ll take him out to dinner. I can’t believe he’s only 21. The head on him is amazing, and his attitude.”
England’s Matt Wallace, South African Keith Horne, Swede Jens Dantorp, and Panuphol Pittayarat of Thailand are in a share of fifth at five under par, a shot clear of a group of eight players including France’s Sébastien Gros, Dutchman Joost Luiten, Scot Marc Warren, American Paul Peterson and South Korea’s Jeunghun Wang.
Nine players will return to complete round two at 7 am on Saturday after play was stopped due to darkness. With a projected cut of three over par, India’s SSP Chawrasia has missed out on the chance to seal the title for the third consecutive year, with a second round 77 taking his total to seven over par.