Sharma marks 22nd birthday with a 71 at The Open

ssIndia’s rising star Shubhankar Sharma celebrated his 22nd birthday at The 147th Open at Carnoustie on Saturday, signing for a second straight even-par 71 to tie in 56th place following the penultimate round.

Sharma, a two-time Asian Tour winner, became the youngest Indian to make the halfway cut in a Major championship, just one day before turning 22. He described making his first Major cut in his Open debut as ‘The best birthday gift ever’ for himself.

“This is the best birthday present for myself, playing in The Open and making the cut. The weather was perfect today too. This is the best way I could’ve spent my birthday. I received a lot of well wishes and I am really happy to receive all the support that I’ve got,” said Sharma.

Starting the round eight shots off the pace, Sharma traded three birdies against three bogeys to trail leaders Jordan Spieth, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele by 11 shots on two-over-par 215 total in the world’s oldest Major championship.

“It was a great day. I would like to have played better than I did but I am very happy that I am playing the round today. I did my best yesterday to try and make it to the weekend. I thought I played pretty well. I just didn’t make enough putts.

“I couldn’t capitalize on the birdie on second but that’s golf. I am happy with the way that I am playing. My hitting was much better than the previous days. I will go try and get my putter going later and then just relax and look forward to dinner tonight,” added the amiable Sharma.

Sharma earned his spot in the year’s third Major after sealing his maiden Asian Tour victory at the Joburg Open last December, which was part of The Open Qualifying Series.

He has since embarked on an extraordinary whirlwind rise, claiming his second win in two monthsat the Maybank Championship in Malaysia. The young talent also enjoyed a top-10 finish in his World Golf Championships debut in Mexico in March.

That outstanding result earned him an invitation to The Masters where he made his Major debut. He would go on to earn his second Major appearance at the US Open after coming through the Qualifier.

Two-time Asian Tour winner Shaun Norris, who enjoyed a first career pairing with Tiger Woods on Saturday, returned with a 69 to trail by seven shots in tied-28th place. The South African is making his second consecutive appearance at The Open this week.

Japanese duo Yuta Ikeda and Masahiro Kawamura posted identical 71s to sit in tied-51st and tied-56th positions respectively.

Malaysia’s Gavin Green also carded a 71 to grab a share of 61st place on 145 while Thai star Kiradech Aphibarnrat slipped to 77th position following a 74.