You would never know Shubhankar Sharma of India is playing his first event on the PGA Tour.
The 21-year-old Sharma birdied the last three holes, sinking a 10-foot putt at No. 18, to shoot 5-under-par 66 and take a two-stroke lead over Xander Schauffele and Spaniards Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello midway through the WGC-Mexico Championship at Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico City.
“I read the putt, picked a spot and my ball went right over it,” Sharma said of his birdie putt on the final hole. “I played well today, kept the ball in play and gave myself chances for birdie. The only (two) bogeys I made were on three-putts.
“I’ve been playing well lately and didn’t put any pressure on myself coming in here. I’m happy with the way I played the first two days. I feel like I have proved that I belong, that I can play with the big boys, and hope to keep it going the next two days.
“ … I worked all my life to come and play at a high stage like this.”
Sharma, who has captured the Joburg Open and the Maybank Championship this season to lead the Race to Dubai on the European Tour, drove the green on the 320-yard first hole on Friday and made a two-foot eagle putt to kick-start a round that led to a 36-hole total of 11-under 131.
Schauffele, from La Jolla and San Diego State, shot 68 and is the only player in the field without a bogey in the first two rounds, while Garcia’s 22-foot eagle putt on the 11th hole highlighted a bogey-free 65 and Cabrera Bello made a 27-footer for eagle at No. 15 en route to a 67.
Top-ranked Dustin Johnson, the defending champion, holed out with a wedge for 112 yards on the ninth hole in a 66 and is four shots back in a tie for fifth with first-round leader Louis Oosthuizen (71) of South Africa, Pat Perez (67) of San Diego, Brendan Steele (66) of Idyllwild and UC Riverside, Brian Harman (67), Bubba Watson (66) and Kiradech Aphibarnrat (69) of Thailand.
Fourth-ranked Jordan Spieth is tied for 14th after a 67, Rickie Fowler of Murrieta shot 70 and is in a tie for 20th that includes second-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain, who had a 71, while third-ranked Justin Thomas is tied for 38th following a 70 and fifth-ranked Justin Rose of England is tied for 40th after a 72.
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