Shubhankar Sharma fired a 7-under 65 on Saturday at Randpark Golf Club’s Firethorn course and will take a five-shot lead into the final round of the Joburg Open.
The Indian finished bogey free with seven birdies, including four straight on Nos. 2-4, en route to a three-day score of 20 under.
“I’m really happy. I wanted to play even though I shot a ten under yesterday and it is always difficult to follow up on a low round. I’m really proud of the way I played today, said Sharma, who posted a top 10 at last month’s UBS Hong Kong Open.
“I’m very pleased that I came to the Joburg Open. I had my visa but it has been a very long season so I was contemplating if I wanted to come here. I’m really happy that I did.”
Christofer Blomstrand is alone in second at 15 under following a sizzling 10-under 62.
After an eagle on the par-5 14th, Blomstrand moved to 11 under, and was just two birdies away from a 59. But a par-par-par-bogey finish had the Swede sign for a card three short of the magic sub-60 score.
Englishman James Morrison and South African Erik van Rooyen were tied at 14 under, a shot ahead of Morrison’s compatriot, Marcus Armitage, and 36-hole leader Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland.
As well as playing for the first place trophy this week, the top-three finishers, who are not already exempt, will earn a spot in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie. So while those 5-6 shots back will be chasing down Sharma, many more will be jockeying for one of the top three positions on Sunday.
TOP 10: ROUND THREE
1 Shubhankar Sharma -20
2 Christofer Blomstrand -15
3 James Morrison -14
3 Erik van Rooyen -14
5 Marcus Armitage -13
5 Tapio Pulkkanen -13
7 Ross McGowan -11
7 Christiaan Bezuidenhout -11
7 Steven Brown -11
7 Oliver Bekker -11
7 Joachim B Hansen -11
SHOTS OF THE DAY
Tapio Pulkkanen reaches the 603-yard par-5 fourth hole with driver and iron.
“I want to stay within myself and play against my course. I have a good lead but you saw some low scores today. Anyone can shoot a seven or eight under par. I need to stay calm and hit the right shots.”
– Shubhankar Sharma