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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Second- round leader Shubhankar Sharma of India watches his shot Friday at the Mexico Championship at the Chapultepec Golf Club in Mexico City

Saturday, March 03, 2018 1:00 am


21-year-old grabs lead at WGC event

Associated Press

MEXICO CITY – Success has come quickly for Shubhankar Sharma, and the Mexico Championship is no exception.

Sharma hit a 3-wood that landed on the green and settled 2 feet away for an eagle on the opening hole at Chapultepec Golf Club. He finished with three straight birdies for a 5-under 66. And in his first World Golf Championship, had a two-shot lead after 36 holes.

“I worked all my life to come and play at a high stage like this,” said Sharma, who turned pro when he was 16. “You have to expect great things from yourself if you want to play at a high stage. I just try and not think of anything before I start. I just try and concentrate on the success, and just let things go.”

Sharma, 21, overcame a pair of three-putt bogeys early in his round and was at 11-under 131.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia had a 65 and was two shots behind, along with Xander Schauffele (66) and Rafa Cabrera Bello (67).

Sharma had such control over his game that he putted for birdie on every hole except the par-4 eighth, where he escaped from the trees into a bunker, blasted out to 12 feet and saved par. He shot 31 on the back, finishing with a gap wedge he hammered to 10 feet for a final birdie, and he walked off the green to a big ovation.

Russell Knox is the only other player to win a World Golf Championship in his debut, at the 2015 HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

Sharma, the only two-time winner on the European Tour this season who leads the Race to Dubai, is No. 75 in the world.

Still in his sights is a chance to move into the top 64 after next week to get into the Dell Match Play in Texas, and he has an outside chance of getting into the Masters.

Woods adds Valspar

Tiger Woods is adding another tournament as he tries to ready his game for the Masters.

The PGA Tour says he committed to play next week in the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook. Woods has never played the tournament near Tampa, Florida, though he played Innisbrook when it hosted the old JC Penney Mixed Team Classic.

This will be his third tournament in four weeks on the PGA Tour since returning from a fourth back surgery.

Woods tied for 23rd at Torrey Pines, took two weeks off and then missed the cut at Riviera and finished 12th last week at the Honda Classic. Woods also says he is playing the following week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which he has won eight times.

LPGA: In Singapore, Danielle Kang shot an 8-under 64 to take a four-stroke lead at the halfway stage of the Women's World Championship.

Kang, who won last year's Women's PGA Championship, had eight birdies to equal the course record at the Sentosa Golf Club and lead the LPGA tournament at 12-under 132 after her second straight bogey-free round.

Nelly Korda, whose sister Jessica won the LPGA Tour event in Thailand last week, had a 66 to be tied for second with fellow American Alex Marina (67).

Minjee Lee (66), Cristie Kerr (67) and Chella Choi (69) were a further stroke back at 7-under.

EUROPEAN: In Pretoria, South Africa, George Coetzee shot a second-round 64 on the course he grew up playing on to lead the Tshwane Open by one at the midway mark.

Coetzee made six birdies on a rampant back nine and seven overall to go to 11 under overall, jump six places up the leader board, and move ahead of Felipe Aguilar (67) and Mikko Korhonen (64). 

Danny Willett, the 2016 U.S. Masters champion, improved his chances with a second-round, 3-under 68 to go to 4 under and ensure he made the cut.