Sharma recovers from early shocks to shoot 66, rises to sixth

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Paphos (Cyprus), Oct 31 (PTI) Playing almost at the crack of dawn, Indian ace Shubhankar Sharma recovered from early setbacks to rise to sixth place after finishing with 5-under 66 at the halfway stage of the inaugural Cyprus Open here.

It was his best round since November 2019, when he shot a 64 on the final day of the Turkish Airlines Open, where he finished tied 7th.

At 9-under, Shubhankar was two shots behind the leaders, Jamie Donaldson, who still had one hole from second round to play, and Marcus Armritage, who had three holes left at the stunning Aphrodite Hills Resort.

Meanwhile, India's other challenger, SSP Chawrasia (71-70), at 1-under, will miss the cut, which will likely fall at 3-under.

Sharma, who had a mid-afternoon finish on the first day, had a horrific bogey-bogey start after a flawless first round.

He steadied himself to an extent and made no more bogeys and instead had a birdie and an eagle on front nine followed by five birdies on the back nine.

Sharma, who sits 151st on the Race to Dubai, needs a few solid results to have a chance to get to DP World Championship.

'I think (the two bogeys at the start) actually made me focus. I was joking with my friend who is on the bag that it opened my eyes – I had an early tee off today and was a little sleepy on the first two holes,' Sharma said.

'The first wasn't an unforced error. I had a great shot which landed two feet from the pin, it rolled off the green and I missed the up and down from there.

'I made a stupid bogey on the second, but after the second I told my friend (on the bag) I'm playing too well to let this put me down.

'We set a target for ourselves, we wanted to finish 10-under for the first two days. We just came up one shy, but that helped me refocus and put things into perspective.' Sharma, who has struggled so far this season with a best result of tied 26 at ASI Scottish Open earlier, said he has noticed an improvement in his iron play in recent weeks.

'It was a tough start to the year. I was really struggling to find my rhythm. My iron play wasn't and that is the strongest part of my game.' PTI Cor AH AH