NORTH BERWICK (SCOTLAND): India's Shubhankar Sharma submitted a card of two-under 68 to be tied 26th at the end of the first round in the Scottish Open golf championships.
Sharma enjoyed a solid start with 68 to ensure a strong Asian presence in the Home of Golf for the event which as part of the Rolex Series is the last chance for golfers to qualify for the British Open to be held next week.
Sharma struck four birdies against two bogies. He started with a birdie on the par-4 hole one and after a par on the second hole, made his first bogie on the par-5 third hole. His second birdie also came on a par-5, the eighth hole as he reached the midway stage of his first round with a one-over 36. His return journey was far better for the Indian as he made birdies on the 13th, 15th and 16th holes for a two-under score.
South Korea’s Byeong Hun An fired a career-low and course record-equalling 9-under 61 to snatch the first-round lead.
The 31-year-old An brilliantly sprinkled nine birdies on a blemish-free card at Renaissance Golf Club here on Thursday for his third 18-hole lead/co-lead on the PGA Tour. Davis Riley shot a 63 for a solo second, two back, while reigning FedExCup champion Rory McIlroy and Thomas Detry ended the opening day in tied third following matching 64s.
Another Korean, K.H. Lee carded a bogey-free 65 for joint fifth while Tom Kim, who finished third here a year ago, renewed his love affair with links golf with a 66. China’s Ashun Wu, the fifth Asian golfer in the fray, shot two-under 68 and was also at T26.
“It was nice. I couldn't play any better. That's a clean scorecard. Overall, very relaxed out there and the weather has been nice so far,” An, who is seeking a first PGA Tour victory, was quoted as saying in a report.
The former U.S. Amateur champion is showing glimpses of his best form once again after regaining his PGA Tour status through the Korn Ferry Tour last year. He has two top-10s this season and seven other top-25s to be ranked 58th on the FedExCup points list and is poised to qualify for the Playoffs which are restricted to the top 70.
A visit to the home of golf for the US$9 million Scottish Open, which is co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, is very much welcomed by An who cut his professional teeth in Europe. He started on the Challenge Tour before making his way to the main circuit where he won the prestigious BMW PGA Championship in 2015.
World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler opened his campaign with a 68 while defending champion Xander Schauffele signed for a 70 to be well off the early pace.