Shubhankar Sharma in action. | Photo Credit: Getty Images
Sharma falters in closing stages, finishes third at Nedbank Challenge
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.
Sandhu top Indian at 21st as Ogletree wins maiden pro title
Cairo, Nov 14 (PTI) India’s Ajeetesh Sandhu shot one-under 69 to emerge as the best Indian at tied 27th at the USD 1.5 million International Series Egypt here.
Sandhu was 7-under 283 for the week.
SSP Chawrasia (69) was the next best Indian at 3-under 277 in tied 41st, while S Chikkarangappa (70) was tied 45th. Viraj Madappa (72) was tied 51st and Gaganjeet Bhullar (70) finished tied 61st in what was a disappointing campaign for the Indians.
Andy Ogletree fired a final round eight-under 62 to finish with a tournament total of 23-under and win by four shots from Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, who returned a 63.
It was Ogletree’s maiden title in the professional ranks.
Korean Jeunghun Wang (64) and Sihwan Kim (65) from the United States tied for third, seven behind the winner. The result saw Sihwan Kim return to the top of the Asian Tour Order of Merit list.
Ogletree started the day with a three-shot advantage from Wiesberger and took a firm grip of the tournament by touring the front nine in four-under-par 32 with birdies on one, three, five, seven and nine with a dropped shot on eight doing little damage to his lead.
He was four ahead of Wiesberger at the turn. The Austrian pushed hard to mount a challenge and eagled the par-four 10th after holing his second but Ogletree responded with a birdie on that hole to sit comfortably three in front.
Wiesberger closed to within two after a birdie on 13 but the 16th proved to be pivotal as the American made a birdie while Wiesberger dropped a shot to put the gap back to four.
Wiesberger made birdie on 17 but it still left Ogletree with the comfort of a three-shot lead going down the last, which he fittingly birdied to put the icing on the cake.
The 24-year-old, who played on the golf team at the prestigious Georgia Tech University, won the US Amateur in 2019 and was part of the victorious American team at the Walker Cup the same year. He turned professional the following year and is a rookie on the Asian Tour this season.
Two more events remain on the Asian Tour this season: the Bangabandhu Cup Golf Bangladesh Open (November 24-27) and the BNI Indonesian Masters presented by TNE (December 1-4).
Vidhi, Deepika register new U-18 national records in Junior Athletics meet
Uttar Pradesh’s Vidhi and Deepika of Haryana registered new girls’ Under-18 national records in shot put and javelin throw respectively on the fourth day of the 37th AFI National Junior Athletics Championships here on Monday.
Vidhi, who will turn 18 next month, became the first Indian U-18 shot putter to breach the 16m mark with her second try of 16.18m.
She improved on the U-18 national record set at 15.99m by Kachnar Chaudhary in Coimbatore in 2016.
Vidhi followed that up with two more efforts over 16m, marking 16.56m on her fourth attempt as the new benchmark in the age-group.
Deepika, who won a silver medal in the Asian U-18 meet in Kuwait a month ago, improved her own U-18 national record of 51.84m set in the National U-18 Championships in Bhopal in September with a throw of 52.75m on her second try.
She further recorded throws of 53.17m and 53.36m.
Sanjay Vishnoi of Rajasthan also broke the national record while winning the boys’ U-16 javelin throw competition.
On a day when as many as five throwers breached the 60m, Vishnoi’s fifth attempt of 62.47m was not only a winning throw, but also helped him break Bihar’s Virender Yadav’s record of 62.16m.
The results (winners only):
Men:Under 20: Long jump: Amitra Ghosh (WB) 7.55m. 4x100m relay: Odisha (41.31s).
Boys: Under-18: High jump: Deepanshu (Har) 1.99m. Shot put: Armandeep Singh (Pun) 18.78m. 10,000m race walk: Aditya Negi (Uttarakhand) 42:44.93.
Under-16: Javelin throw: Sanjay Vishnoi (Raj) 62.47m.
Under-14: Kids Javelin throw: Dhairya Alpeshbhai (Guj) 57.08m. Triathlon: Anirban Adhikary (WB) 1813 pts.
Women: Under-20: 4x100m relay: Tamil Nadu (49.01s). Triple jump: Poorva Hitesh Sawant (Mah) 12.98m. Pole vault: Rajni (Har) 3.30m. Heptathlon: K.A. Anamika (Ker) 4387 pts. Mixed 4x400m relay: Karnataka (3:33.10s).
Girls: Under-18: Shot put: Vidhi (UP) 16.56m NR, OR 15.99. Javelin throw: Deepika (Har) 53.36m NR, OR 51.84. Heptathlon: Pavana Nagaraj (Kar) 4547 pts.
Under-16: 3000m race walk: Khushbu Yadav (Raj) 15:12.76s. Hexathlon: Eva Manoj (Mah) 3094 pts.
Under-14: Shot Put: Divjot Kaur (Pun) 14.29m NR, OR 14.25. Kids javelin throw: Tejaswani Dhal (Odi) 33.60m. Triathlon: Komal (Har) 1623 pts.
Oliver Crawford to continue as top seed
Champion of the last event in Indore, Oliver Crawford will continue as the top seed in the $25,000 ITF men’s tennis tournament to be played at the MSLTA Courts from Tuesday.
Only two Indian players, national champion Manish Sureshkumar and Sidharth Rawat have managed to gain seeding, in the fifth and sixth positions respectively.
It will be interesting to see how well the Indian players capitalise on another event at home, against tough opposition from abroad. Digvijay Pratap Singh had done well to clinch the title in the first $15,000 tournament of the current series in Delhi. The field did have Oliver Crawford and another tough Frenchman, Florent Bax who retired midway through the final with an ankle injury.
It only showed that the Indian players were capable of stepping up and grabbing their chance, especially in favourable domestic conditions.
Three national champions, VM Ranjeet, Siddharth Vishwakarma and Dalwinder Singh have made it to the third and final qualifying round, which gives a fair indication of the depth of competition.
Qualifying singles (second round): Rishi Reddy bt Gunjan Jadhav 6-3, 6-3; Ivan Denisov (Rus) bt Lakshit Sood 6-1, 6-4; Kazuki NIshiwaki (Jpn) bt Shashank Theertha 6-3, 6-1; VM Ranjeet bt Suraj Prabodh 6-2, 6-3; Siddharth Vishwakarma bt BR Nikshep 6-3, 6-1; Shahbaaz Khan bt Corban Crowther (Nzl) 7-6(11), 6-2; Ryotaro Matsumura (Jpn) bt Manish Ganesh 6-1, 6-1; Madhwin Kamath bt Lakshya Gupta 6-0, 6-3; Dalwinder Singh bt Oges Theyjo 6-2, 6-1; Raghav Jaisinghani bt Guhan Rajan 6-1, 6-2; Faisal Qamar bt Mohit Bhardwaj 6-1, 6-1; Shivank Bhatnagar bt Yash Chaurasia 3-6, 6-1, [10-8].
The seedings: 1. Oliver Crawford (USA), 2. Ben Pateael (Isr), 3. Vladyslav Orlov (Ukr), 4. Dominik Palan (Cze), 5. Manish Sureshkumar, 6. Sidharth Rawat, 7. Arthur Weber (Fra), 8. Bekhan Atlangeriev (Rus).
Senior men’s Nationals to be held in TN; Women’s Nationals in Telangana
The Senior men’s National hockey championships will be held either in Kovilpatti or Madurai while the women’s Nationals will be held in Telangana, both in the month of April 2023, and the junior and sub-junior boys’ and girls’ Nationals will conducted in Odisha in February 2023, according to Sekhar J Manoharan, Treasurer of Hockey India and President of Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu (HUTN).
Speaking to Sportstar on Monday, Manoharan said HUTN was keen to organise the Pro League matches in Chennai in March. The league was held from 2013-17 and after that it didn’t take place. “I was thinking of having a team from Tamil Nadu in the Pro League while Hockey India President Dilip Tirkey was keen that HUTN organise the league in Chennai as this could be the first time that Tamil Nadu could it,” revealed Manoharan.
As far as participation of top Indian male players in the Senior Nationals is concerned, Manoharan said there is a fair chance that big stars might take part. “The World Cup will get over by January and by April they should be in a position to participate in the Nationals,” he said.
Asia-Oceania blind championship: India, Malaysia remain goalless at full time
Kochi: India held Malaysia goalless in a men’s Group ‘A’ league match of the Asia-Oceania blind football championship at the United Sports Centre, Kakkanad, on Monday.
It was India’s second match in the event. The host had blanked Kazakhstan 4-0 in its opener.
Kenkre beat Sudeva 2-1 to make winning start in I League
Kenkre FC started its I-League campaign on a winning note, beating hosts Sudeva Delhi FC 2-1 at the Chhatrasal Stadium here on Monday.
After the teams were locked 1-1 at half time, Azfar Noorani scored in the 61st minute to clinch the issue in favour of Kenkre FC.
The match began with the Mumbai outfit making all efforts to find its attackers through long balls, while Sudeva FC tried to play with quick passes.
However, neither team could make any tangible inroad in the rival area. The first real chance got into Sudeva’s way when its Nigerian forward Odili Felix Chidi saw his shot saved by Kenkre goalkeeper Padam Chettri in the eighth minute.
However, four minutes later, Kenkre FC drew the first blood as defender Ahmed Faiz Khan scored from a corner kick.
The home side grew into the game after conceding the goal and started dictating terms in the midfield. In the 15th minute, a corner kick taken by Sudeva’s 18-year-old Seilenthang Lotjem was defended poorly by the Kenkre defence.
Kynsailang Khongsit’s rather uncertain clearance found Sudeva captain Nishchal Chandan in a good position, but his powerful shot hit the post.
Though Sudeva FC had an edge in the first half, Kenkre’s Aravindraj Rajan and Noorani managed to keep the rival defence on their toes with some good runs.
At the half-hour mark, Kiran Pandhare had a nervy moment when he lost the ball to Felix Chidi but was relieved to find Chidi shot straight to goalkeeper Chettri.
Sudeva’s Japanese recruit, Kosuke Uchida played a pivotal role in the midfield for the hosts as he dropped deep on several occasions to initiate effective moves through the wings.
During the add-on times of the first half, young Sudeva winger R Lawmnasangzuala found Basit Ahmed Bhat with a fine cross and Basit’s perfect header found the equaliser for the home side.
The second half began at a slow pace with both the teams trying to find their rhythm back. Basit remained active on the left with some fine moves with good dribbling.
Once he put in a wonderful cross, finding Tetsuaki Misawa who couldn’t keep his shot down. Kenkre regained its lead at the hour mark as Rajan provided a great through ball to Noorani, who struck powerfully to find the target.
Kenkre almost scored the third goal when Noorani put in a cross from the left flank for Kiran Pandhare, who came up with a good header but his attempt was saved by the Sudeva custodian Ashish Sibi.
Sudeva stepped up its attacks in the final quarter. Substitute Francis Uchenna Nwankwo put in multiple crosses into the opponents’ box but his teammates failed to capitalise on them.
First-half strikes earn RoundGlass Punjab FC 2-1 win over Sreenidi Deccan
RoundGlass Punjab FC defeated Sreenidi Deccan 2-1 to start its I-League campaign on a winning note at the Tau Devi Lal Stadioum here on Monday.
First half strikes from Luka Majcen and Samuel Lalmuanpuia clinched three points for the Punjab outfit even as Sreenidi defender Shahabaaz Khan scored in the 58th minute to reduce the margin.
The first half began on a tentative note as both the teams looked to enter their respective passing rhythms. Attacks were few and far between in the opening 15 minutes.
The home side started to dominate the exchanges eventually and the first major chance came in the 21st minute after a free-kick from the left flank was headed towards his own goal by Sreenidi defence, which had to be cleared off the line at the last second.
Two minutes later, RoundGlass Punjab FC’s pressure paid dividends. A quick throw-in from the right flank found Brandon Vanlalremdika in space inside the penalty area. He chipped in a cross for Majcen and the Slovenian marksman smartly placed it beyond the keeper in the near post.
The Punjab side continued to create waves of attack, with Majcen’s shot from close range being blocked on the goal-line in the 38th minute. However, he was narrowly offside as well while receiving the ball.
With two minutes of the first half left, RoundGlass Punjab FC doubled its lead through Lalmuanpuia.
After Majcen was brought down at the edge of the penalty area, the midfielder took the free-kick and placed it over the wall and past the goalkeeper, much to the delight of the home fans.
The best chance of the half for the visitors came at the half hour mark after a free-kick from the right flank posed questions of the defence but Adnan Secerovic cleared in time.
Sreenidi Deccan looked to switch things around in the second half with attacker David Munoz coming on as a substitute. They created an opening in the 54th minute as Louis Ogana played a low cross from the right, which was collected safely by Kiran Limbu.
Sreenidi, however, continued to press and reduced the deficit in the 58th minute. Gabriel’s cross was palmed away from goal by Limbu, and Khan got his head to the loose ball first and put it into the net.
The match grew in intensity and RoundGlass Punjab FC came close to finding its third goal in the 68th minute.
Krishnananda Singh won the ball high up the pitch and charged towards the by-line from the left wing but his cross was inches away from finding Majcen.
Six minutes later, the striker almost played in substitute Pranjal Bhumij on a fast counter-attack but his pass was inaccurate and was collected by Sreenidi keeper Aryan Lamba.
The Hyderabad-based side piled on the pressure in search of the equaliser towards the end, but the Punjab backline thwarted their attempts.
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