Battling start for Sharma at the Masters Tournament

Thu 05 Apr 2018

Battling start for Sharma at the Masters Tournament

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By V Krishnaswamy  

Augusta, April 5: Shubhankar Sharma of India got through a challenging opening day by carding a five-over-par 77 at the Masters Tournament which teed off on Thursday.  

The 21-year-old, who was making his maiden Masters Tournament appearance, made three birdies but was ripped apart by eight bogeys, which included two bogey hat-tricks, one on each half of the Augusta National Golf Club.

Other Asian Tour members playing in the year’s first major tournament are Japan’s Yuta Ikeda (76) and Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat (79). They finished the first round in tied-62nd and tied-82nd respectively.

Asian Tour honorary member, Vijay Singh of Fiji, led the field twice when he was at three-under-par, but the 2000 Masters Tournament champion eventually ended with a 71, in tied-16th.

American Jordan Spieth, the 2015 Masters Tournament champion, led the field after carding a 66. He scored five birdies in a row from 13th to 17th  but bogeyed the last. Compatriots Tony Finau, who seemed to have recovered from his twisted ankle during the Par-3 Contest, and Matt Kuchar were two shots behind in second place.

Seven players, including China’s Haotong Li, shot 69 to share fourth place. The group also included former world number one Rory McIlroy and birthday boy, Swede Henrik Stenson.

Tiger Woods, making a comeback to the Masters Tournament after two years, carded 73 and was tied-29th. He had three birdies, none of them on par-fives, against four bogeys.

Sharma seemed to have settled himself in after any jitters he may have had of playing his first Masters Tournament as he made three steady pars. Then, came the first hat-trick of bogey from fourth to sixth. Two pars and then his first-ever birdie at Augusta suggested he might find his way back.

It was not to be as his subsequent birdies at the 13th and 15th were followed by bogeys. That never allowed the current Habitat for Humanity Standings leader any breathing space.

 “To be honest, I am not too happy with the round. I didn't finish the way I wanted to, but it was fantastic out there, the atmosphere and everything.  On the back nine, I was playing steadily, but scoring three consecutive bogeys from 16th to 18th was bad.

“The putter did not work on the front nine, and the approach shots did not work on the back nine. It was a mix of both. On 16 was  I was trying to hit an easy 7-Iron, which I pulled and it was pin high but too far left.  I will still not be too hard on myself.  I made bogey, actually, a good bogey.  Although, both 17 and 18 were hard.”

He admitted: “The course was great. I think we had good scoring conditions today.  The pins were pretty decent and you had a good chance of attacking most of the pins on the course today.  It wasn't too windy today and if it stays the same way tomorrow, I'll be able to shoot a good score and see a good round tomorrow.”

Ikeda carded a 76 that had four birdies, but also four bogeys and two double bogeys. 

Kiradech, who was playing with a brand new driver after breaking his usual one two days ago, shot eight bogeys, four on each side of the course, against just one birdie. His 79 left him too much to do to stay on for the weekend.

“My driver just did not work, which inevitably gave me problems. I was not in the right places off the tee and that meant my approach shots left me with 30 to 35-foot putts,” said the 2013 Asian Tour Order of Merit Champion.

In round two, Sharma will be teeing off at 9.25pm EDT, while Ikeda and Kiradech and will be teeing off at 9.36pm EDT and 12.43pm EDT respectively.