India's Sharma fires 10 birdies to seal title

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INDIA'S Shubhankar Sharma fired 10 birdies to stun the crowd and secure a two-shot win at the US$3-million Maybank Championship in Malaysia yesterday.
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AFP

Shubhankar Sharma of India poses with the trophy after winning the Maybank Championship at the Saujana Golf and Country Club outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, yesterday. 

INDIA’S Shubhankar Sharma fired 10 birdies to stun the crowd and secure a two-shot win at the US$3-million Maybank Championship in Malaysia yesterday.

It was the second Asian Tour and European Tour victory for the 21-year-old, who pocketed US$500,000 and triumphed with a 10-under-par 62 on the final day of the tournament just two months after clinching the Joburg Open.

Speaking to reporters after the win, the world No. 193 said 10 was his lucky number.

“It’s always tough to make more birdies when you’re trailing the leaders, but I was calm and fantastic, so it was great,” Sharma, who jumped to the top of the Race to Dubai Rankings, said.

“I’ve had a few 10-under pars, the first one I shot was in Manila two years back. And then I shot 10-under again in Joburg to win, so that number is lucky for me.”

In sweltering conditions at the Saujana Golf and Country Club outside Kuala Lumpur, Sharma came into the final round tied-19th, needing to make up four shots to catch overnight leaders Spaniard Jorge Campillo and South African Dylan Frittelli.

His road to victory began with an incredible four consecutive birdies, which included a 15-foot putt at the 7th hole.

Another birdie on the 9th was followed with an impressive birdie on the 11th, before he dropped in a further four to finish on a high.

“I didn’t start well, but made the four birdies,” he said.

“Even on the back nine, I just kept playing well. It’s still sinking in, really happy with the way I played.”

“The last two months have changed my life,” Sharma added. “I’ve been a member on the Asian Tour for a while and I will continue to be a member on the Asian Tour.

“I’ve always dreamt of winning and now I’m a two-time winner on the Asian Tour and European Tour.”

Runner-up Campillo, who missed the opportunity to win his maiden title on the European Tour in his 196th event, carded 68 for an overall 19-under-par 269.

His compatriot Pablo Larrazabal was tied-third with New Zealand’s Ryan Fox.

Fritelli finished tied-fifth, along with Italy’s Nino Bertasio, India’s Khalin Joshi and Japanese duo Ryo Ishikawa and Hideto Tanihara.

England’s Lee Westwood, who shot a 62 on Friday, was unable to maintain his form and finished tied-11th after firing a final-round 70. The former world No. 1 was in a tie with French pair Matthieu Pavon and Romain Wattel, Dutchman Joost Luiten, Germany’s Maximilian Kieffer and American Paul Peterson.

In Phoenix, Arizona, Rickie Fowler birdied his last three holes to seize a one-stroke lead over world No. 2 Jon Rahm and two others at the US PGA Tour Phoenix Open on Saturday.

Fowler, who shared the overnight lead with Bryson DeChambeau rolled a nine-foot birdie putt into the heart of the cup at the 18th hole of TPC Scottsdale to move atop the jammed leaderboard, firing a 4r-under 67 for 14-under 199.

Rahm, chasing Dustin Johnson’s world No. 1 ranking, carded a 6-under 65 and was joined on 200 by DeChambeau, who signed for a 68 and Chez Reavie, who carded a 67.

Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson carded a 66 to head a group on 201. He was tied with reigning Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele (66) and Daniel Berger (68).

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