Sports

Sharma upstages big names, emerges leader after 2 rounds

Sharma upstages big names, emerges leader after 2 rounds

India's Shubhankar Sharma, the youngest competitor in the field, takes a two-shot lead into the weekend of the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship.

The 21-year-old - a two-time victor on the European Tour this season - carded a five-under-par 66 to move clear of Masters champion Garcia, Xander Schauffele and Rafa Cabrera-Bello.

Several of those big boys were lurking close, with Spanish duo of Sergio Garcia (65) and Rafa Cabrera Bello (67) in a share of second with American Xander Schauffele (68) on nine-under.

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.

Sharma entered the week already ranked first on the European Tour after two early-season victories but it would be fair to suggest he was not a name on everyone's lips pre-tournament. "I expected to play well", the 21-year-old told Golf Channel.

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"I worked all my life to come and play at a high stage like this", said Sharma, who turned pro when he was 16. "I just wanted the first round to get out of the way", said Sharma, who has been hooked on golf ever since he was introduced to the game by his father as a six-year-old.

Starting his day on the 10 hole, the Thai made birdies on 13 and 18 and eagled the par-5 15 hole after holing a 44-foot putt from the fringe. As soon as I hit it I knew I hit a good shot. "I was just short of the green and had a very easy chip shot (for eagle)", he said. I couldn't have hit it in a better place. You really need that to have to go low, especially on a course like this. It's my first WGC and I was happy that I'll play four days because I missed the cut in the last two events that I played. I drove it well.

Now ranked 75th in the world, he needs to climb into the top 50 in the next four weeks, or better yet win a tournament, to qualify for Augusta National.

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


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