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India's Sharma hangs on to WGC Mexico lead

05 March 2018

File image of Shubhankar Sharma. Will be updated. Updates photo links.

India's Shubhankar Sharma survived some shaky moments to maintain his two-shot lead after the third round.

The 37-year-old Englishman recorded this week's first hole-in-one with a 9-iron at the 157-yard par-3 third hole. Apparently Phil Mickelson didn't get the memo. Dustin Johnson was three back. Sharma has gone about his business in Mexico so quietly that when he sheepishly approached Mickelson, a 42-time PGA TOUR victor, at the practice putting green to introduce himself prior to his third round, the World Golf Hall of Famer initially waved him away thinking he was a journalist.

Sharma, the 21-year-old Asian Tour Order of Merit leader whose two European Tour wins this season - the first of his career - have propelled him to number 75 in the world, is making his first start in an elite World Golf Championships event.

The Club de Golf Chapultepec features a drivable par 4 to start, but the par-4 second, although not long by today's standards, was not created to be reached in one shot.

Sharma shot a 2-under 69 on the Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico City.

That left him 18 holes away from capping off his awesome rise.

Sharma's WGC debut comes after European Tour wins last December at the Joburg Open and last month in Malaysia at the Maybank Championship.

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The 21-year-old is one great round from becoming the youngest victor of a World Golf Championships (WGC) event, as well as the first to win in his first WGC start.

There's also a group of big names looking to take the title. Also two shots behind were Masters champion Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello, who each had a 69.

Sharma, the only two-time victor on the European Tour this year who leads the Race to Dubai, didn't blink. (I'm) very, very happy that I could grind out a par on the last hole.

He was at 13-under 200.

The best position for an Indian at a WGC was tied first for Jeev Milkha Singh after the first round at WGC at Doral in 2009.

"It's been a long time since my game's been back to this point", Mickelson said. I felt like I lost my swing a little bit on the back nine and didn't hit it as good.

"But yeah, it's great just to see the way some of the guys like Dustin strike the ball".

Mickelson, a five-time major victor, has two TOUR victories for every year that Sharma has been alive, but none since the 2013 Open Championship.

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"Winning is everything. I mean, there is no better feeling than when you think you sink that winning putt".

Hatton went out in 30 and kept a clean card on another warm day at 7,800 feet above sea level.

The five birdies he picked up on the back nine, including at the final three holes, helped him stamp his authority on the event.

"Just fabulous", Sharma said of the shot.

He had five birdies and three bogeys en route to a two-under 69.

Last year's US PGA Championship victor Justin Thomas produced the round of the day with a stunning nine-under 62 - a course record. Even then, his goal was to get to 10 under by the end of the tournament.

Nobody, not even Sharma, had a better day than Justin Thomas. "I'm just happy I moved up the leaderboard quite a bit".

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India's Sharma hangs on to WGC Mexico lead