Sun City (South Africa), Nov 10 (PTI) India’s Shubhankar Sharma opened with a strong 4-under 68 in the first round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge to give himself a chance to secure his place in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
With three birdies, an eagle and one bogey, he was tied eighth and two shots behind the four co-leaders that included world No. 8 Max Homa here on Friday.
Homa overcame a lack of competitive action to take a share of a four-way tie for the lead at the Gary Player Country Club.
The world No. 8, making his debut in Sun City, converted an impressive closing birdie to join Englishman Dan Bradbury, Denmark’s Nicolai Højgaard and Sweden’s Vincent Norrman on six under par following rounds of 66.
Homa, who top-scored for the US Team at the Ryder Cup last month, posted a clean card in ‘Africa’s Major’ despite not teeing it up competitively since the biennial contest at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club.
Fellow Ryder Cup star Højgaard wasted no time in setting the clubhouse target as he recovered from an opening bogey in the first group of the day to earn a share of the first round lead and be well placed as he targets a late surge up the Race to Dubai Rankings.
Bradbury continued his love affair with South Africa with his opening round of 66 which included a stunning 75-foot eagle putt at the par five ninth hole.
The 24-year-old started the year without any playing privileges on the DP World Tour before winning the Joburg Open in November 2022 while playing on an invite.
The leading quartet is completed by Swede Norrman, who has proven himself as a man who knows how to win in recent weeks.
The 25-year-old, who is also making his tournament debut this week, went bogey free as he looks to make it three victories in his last 10 worldwide starts following his triumphs at the Barbasol Championship and Horizon Irish Open.
The leaders sit one shot clear of three players in a share of fifth place, with Frenchman Julien Guerrier and Japan’s Ryo Hisatsune joining Poland’s Adrian Meronk on five under par.
Meronk, a four-time DP World Tour winner, is currently third on the Race to Dubai and a win in South Africa this week would keep his hopes of winning the season-long Rankings alive. PTI Cor AH AH
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