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Sharma wins Joburg Open to seal place at The Open

India’s Shubhankar Sharma made it look all terribly simple at the Joburg Open on Monday as he eased his way to a three-stroke victory.

He carded a final-round three-under-par 69 on the Firethorn course at Randpark Golf Club as the players returned to complete the final round which was postponed after the previous day’s thunderstorms.

That gave him a comfortable buffer over runner-up Erik van Rooyen, who, in turn, had a three-stroke margin over fellow South African Shaun Norris and Finland’s Tapio Pulkannen.

‘Mentally, I was really calm,’ said the 21-year-old Sharma, who carried himself like a veteran in trying conditions. ‘Obviously, I couldn’t sleep last night. I woke up like three times. It was raining so hard, it kept hitting the window and I kept waking up.

‘But I’m so happy that it’s finished now and I won. And, now, I will go back home and celebrate with my family.’

He has another reason to celebrate: The Joburg Open is part of The Open Championship Qualifying Series, and the top three players inside the top 10 not otherwise qualified all played their way into next year’s event at Carnoustie in July.

Van Rooyen and Norris will join him there.

‘The Open Championship is my favourite major,’ said Sharma as he stood next to the venerable Claret Jug. ‘It’s the one I watch on television, and to think that I’m going to be playing in it next year is fantastic. Just to think that I have a chance to be associated with the names that are on the Claret Jug is very exciting.’

Sharma restarted his round on the ninth tee, and his birdie ahead of the turn gave him enough of an edge over Van Rooyen to keep his nose well in front until the end.

‘I wanted to make one birdie before the turn and I made that,’ he said. ‘And then, I think the back nine was fairly good, I made a few key up-and-downs.’

Keeping out of trouble was certainly key to his success. He made three bogeys in his opening round on Thursday, with his last coming on the 17th. After that, he never made another drop all week, with his second-round 10-under-par 61 catapulting him into contention and setting up his victory.

‘I made three bogeys on the first day and after that I didn’t make a bogey,’ he said. ‘That’s good golf right there. If you don’t make bogeys, and I was making few birdies as well. I think that was the best part.’

Van Rooyen tried valiantly to chase down Sharma, but a battling two-under 70 in the third round, and missed opportunities on two of the par-fives in the final round ultimately cost him. ‘I don’t think anyone wants to finish second,’ he said. ‘Look, Sharma played some incredible golf so hats off to him. He did really, really well. I tried to put some pressure on him but couldn’t quite get it going on the back nine the way I would have liked but all credit to him because he played some fantastic golf.’

For Sharma, it is all about recalibrating his career expectations now. ‘It’s absolutely fantastic that I have status on these three tours now,’ he said

‘The Asian Tour, being my own tour, gave me an opportunity to come and play here, and I’m very happy that I could get my title for the European Tour. I can’t wait to play all the big events and I’m really looking forward to it.’

He’ll next be playing January’s BMW SA Open Championship proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni.

Picture of Van Rooyen, Sharma and Norris courtesy of Luke Walker/Getty Images

FINA SCORES
264 – Shubankar Sharma 69 61 65 69
267 – Erik van Rooyen 64 67 70 66
270 – Shaun Norris 69 68 68 65, Tapio Pulkkanen 65 64 73 68
272 – Marcus Armitage 69 66 67 70
274 – Joachim B. Hansen 66 67 71 70, James Morrison 64 70 67 73
275 – Paul Peterson 70 67 69 69, Charlie Ford 70 64 71 70, Jinho Choi 69 66 70 70, Daniel Greene 70 68 67 70, Christofer Blomstrand 70 68 62 75
276 – Victor Perez 73 66 69 68, Mikko Korhonen 66 65 75 70, Hennie du Plessis 71 67 68 70, Hennie Otto 70 68 67 71, Oliver Bekker 66 70 68 72, Ross McGowan 66 72 66 72
277 – Matthew Baldwin 64 74 71 68, Vaughn Groenewald 71 66 71 69, Dean Burmester 66 73 68 70, Jaco Ahlers 67 68 72 70, Mark Foster 71 68 68 70, Aaron Rai 69 67 71 70, Gavin Green 70 67 70 70, Steven Brown 68 65 71 73
278 – Jeff Winther 70 66 75 67, Jake Higginbottom 70 69 70 69, JC Ritchie 71 67 69 71
279 – Eirik Tage Johansen 73 66 72 68, Ockie Strydom 64 73 74 68, Marco Iten 71 67 73 68, Daniel Brooks 66 67 77 69, Jens Fahrbring 72 67 71 69, Scott Vincent 71 68 71 69, MJ Viljoen 68 67 74 70, George Coetzee 68 67 72 72, Richard Mcevoy 66 69 72 72, Nathan Kimsey 65 71 70 73, Matt Wallace 73 65 67 74, Christiaan Bezuidenhout 69 69 66 75
280 – Adrian Meronk 65 72 74 69, Robert Macintyre 72 67 71 70, Andrea Pavan 66 73 71 70, Dylan Frittelli 70 69 71 70, Oscar Serna 72 67 70 71, Stuart Manley 68 69 72 71, Tyrone Ryan 67 72 69 72
281 – Jacques Kruyswijk 70 69 73 69, Jaco Prinsloo 67 69 74 71, Oliver Farr 69 67 73 72, Pep Angles 69 70 70 72, Jens Dantorp 72 67 68 74, Chris Cannon 67 70 70 74, Haydn Porteous 69 70 66 76, Kristian Krogh Johannessen 70 65 70 76
282 – JJ Senekal 71 68 70 73, Sebastian Heisele 64 71 74 73, Adrien Saddier 69 65 73 75, Jean Hugo 68 68 71 75
283 – Tirawat Kaewsiribandit 73 65 75 70, Rourke van der Spuy 70 69 70 74
284 – Terry Pilkadaris 68 70 75 71, Tjaart van der Walt 73 63 76 72, Adri Arnaus 69 70 72 73, Lionel Weber 68 71 71 74
285 – Andrew Curlewis 73 66 73 73, Keenan Davidse 63 74 73 75
286 – Sam Chien 71 68 74 73, Stephen Ferreira 67 71 73 75, Oliver Lindell 66 72 73 75
287 – Andre Nel 71 67 75 74, Carlos Pigem 67 71 72 77, Garrick Porteous 68 70 71 78
288 – Cody Martin 71 68 74 75


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