Sharma falters in closing stages, finishes third at Nedbank Challenge
Sharma 71, 69, 69, 69 bogeyed the 16th and 17th holes to let the advantage slip as he carded three-under 69 in the final round late on Sunday.The 26-year-old Indian, who had a disappointing run after his runner-up finish in Abu Dhabi at the start of the year, finished nine-under for the tournament at the Gary Player Golf Course to claim a prize money of 372,906 euros.
India's Shubhankar Sharma faltered towards the end with back-to-back bogeys to squander the lead and eventually finish third at the Nedbank Golf Challenge here. Sharma (71, 69, 69, 69) bogeyed the 16th and 17th holes to let the advantage slip as he carded three-under 69 in the final round late on Sunday.
The 26-year-old Indian, who had a disappointing run after his runner-up finish in Abu Dhabi at the start of the year, finished nine-under for the tournament at the Gary Player Golf Course to claim a prize money of 372,906 euros. At one stage, he was 11-under after 15 holes.
Sharma will now play the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai from November 17-20.
Sharma’s only other top 10 finish this year was an impressive T-2 finish in January at the USD 8 million HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi. After that he missed a lot of cuts.
Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood of England shot a five-under 67 for back-to-back titles, finishing 11-under for the tournament, winning by one shot over Ryan Fox, who ended 10-under after carding a 68. Fleetwood won the Nedbank Challenge in 2019, when it was last held. So, he held on to his title despite three intervening years.
Sharma looked set for a third European Tour victory with four holes left after he birdied the par-5 14th hole to get to 11-under, drawing level with Fleetwood, who had just recovered superbly from the bunker for an eagle on the hole. Fox, the other player in the group, also birdied the hole for a three-way tie for the lead.
Then as the tournament entered the final stages, Fleetwood parred all the remaining holes, while Sharma bogeyed the 16th and 17th holes. Fox bogeyed the final hole to finish one shot back.
Fleetwood and Fox went into the final round three shots behind Rasmus Højgaard and Thomas Detry and the overnight leaders had only managed five holes when play was suspended due to lightning in the area.
Shortly after the restart, Højgaard went bogey-bogey-double bogey from the seventh, and Fleetwood and Sharma took advantage, moving to ten under with birdies at the par-five ninth. Sharma posted another at the tenth while Fleetwood could only par as Fox joined the party.
Fox had started with six straight pars, then birdied four in a row. He left himself around eight feet at the seventh and eighth, was unlucky with a long eagle putt at the ninth before tapping in, and then holed an 11-footer at the tenth.
Fleetwood slipped back after a bogey at the 12th but a moment of magic at the 14th turned things back in his favour. He was in the bunker left of the par-five in two and holed it for an eagle it to jump to 11 under. Moments later, his playing partners Sharma and Fox rolled in their birdie putts and the three of them walked to the 15th tee sharing the lead.
Sharma's challenge ended with bogeys at 16 and 17 and when Fleetwood tapped in for par at the last, after almost sinking a huge birdie attempt, Fox paid for a poor tee shot and posted his only bogey of the day at the worst possible moment.
While Sharma finished in solo third, Scotland’s Richie Ramsay ended a shot further back. Christiaan Bezuidenhout was the highest placed home player at seven-under par alongside Sweden’s Sebastian Soderberg.
The event was held after a three-year gap because of the Covid pandemic.
Sharma had won on the European Tour in December 2017 when he claimed the Joburg Open, followed by the Maybank Championship.
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