Sharma holds onto lead at WGC Mexico

World No 3 Justin Thomas moved closer to the leaders in Mexico on Saturday     
  
 
      
         
              World No 3 Justin Thomas moved closer to the leaders
World No 3 Justin Thomas moved closer to the leaders in Mexico on Saturday World No 3 Justin Thomas moved closer to the leaders
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05 March, 2018

Entering the WGC-Mexico Championship, Sharma is No. 75 in the official World Golf Rankings.

From taking the golfing world by storm to being dismissed as a member of the media by an icon of the sport, India's Shubhankar Sharma is experiencing it all at the WGC Mexico Championship here.

"Obviously a dream come true for me to be playing in this tournament and obviously leading, that's just fantastic", Sharma said. Those are very accomplished players, but they're not on the level of 42-time PGA TOUR victor Mickelson. Joining them will be Tyrrell Hatton of England, who went out in 30 and finished off a 64. He says his game and his problematic back are starting to feel good again and the key is to maintain his rigorous fitness routine.

"You go out there, and it's this feeling that gets you going". At least Sharma got the introductions out of the way before Saturday's round.

Sharma would know. A student of the game, his formative years saw him stay up until the wee hours in the morning in India to watch every major, including the 2010 Masters, when Mickelson hit off the pine straw and through a thin gap in the trees on the way to victory.

Sharma, the only two-time victor on the European Tour this year who leads the Race to Dubai, didn't blink.

He just didn't recognize him.

"I got off to a great start", said Sharma. "After the round, '" Sharma said with a smile. "Then he just realized (and said) "So sorry, I thought you were media.' He said "hi".

Just three months ago, he had yet to win a tournament outside of India's developmental circuit. He was No. 462 in the world.

The passing of golf's generational torch happened on the practice green before the third round of the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship.

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Mao, for example, was referred to as " lingxiu ", but Xi's two immediate predecessors, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, were not. Xi has evidently been working diligently to clear the way for a third presidential term.

He faces quite a test, however.

Sergio Garcia (69) and Rafa Cabrera Bello (69) are also just two behind, in a four-way tie for second, while Dustin Johnson (68) is part of a foursome at 10-under, three back.

Thomas' strong Day 3 wasn't enough to catch the leader, but he sits now four strokes back with one round to play.

Oh, and he can putt - as evidenced by his 14-footer for par at the 18th hole on Saturday to secure the most unlikely of 54-hole advantages (as an aside, he also has a vintage fist pump). He had made bogey on No. 13 to fall into a share of the lead with Pat Perez.

He's not your prototypical modern professional.

Champions - Steve Stricker lost the Cologuard Classic lead in Tucson, Ariz., when he drove into the water on the par-5 18th in a closing double bogey.

Justin Thomas of the U.S. produced the round of the day, carding a course record 62 to cut the deficit to Sharma to four strokes in a tournament that is one of the four annual World Golf Championships organised by the International Federation of PGA Tours. He was only four back. "Very happy that I could grind out a par on the last hole", Sharma told Golf Channel after round three of the WGC-Mexico Championship.

There are no cuts at these WGCs so everyone plays the weekend, usually playing out the string with some middling numbers or maybe posting a low one that doesn't matter with no real pressure.

Tiger Woods fired an even-par 70 in the fourth round for an even-par 280 total to land in 12th place.


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