Joburg Open leader Shubhankar Sharma made a nervous start to the final round of the tri-sanctioned tournament at Randpark Golf Club on Sunday, but was looking increasingly composed before thundershowers washed out most of the afternoon’s play.
The 21-year-old Indian began the day with a five-stroke lead but it did not help when he had a dream overnight that he hit his drive on the par-five second hole into thick bush.
Thankfully, that dream did not turn into reality, and a pinpoint drive set him up for birdie on the second, which he followed up with another shot gained on the par-four sixth hole, taking him to 22-under-par for the tournament.
The thunderstorms chased the golfers from the Firethorn course at 1pm, with Shubhankar on the eighth hole and looking firmly in control, even though rising South African star Erik van Rooyen had closed to within four shots with a momentum-gathering four birdies in five holes from the third.
“I’m glad I hit a good tee-shot on the second hole. I had a dream last night that I hit my tee-shot into the bushes! So I felt really relieved when my drive landed on the fairway today. I also ended up making birdie!,” Shubhankar laughed during the delay.
The final round will now resume from 7.30am on Monday, but sitting around waiting all afternoon for play to get underway again was tough on all the golfers, but especially Shubhankar, who is poised to claim his first win on a major tour.
But the impressive youngster does not seem overloaded by the pressure.
“I’m going to treat Monday like another day. I’m going to do the same things which I’ve been doing in the last four days. You get into a groove when you start and you don’t want to come off. I saw the clouds coming on the seventh hole and I was praying we could finish. But we can’t help it. I’m playing well so I want to continue doing that.
“If we had re-started today, then it would have been tough, but tomorrow will be a new day for me. It would have been tougher if we had to play a few holes today. It will be easier to finish it off tomorrow,” Shubhankar said.