Dubai, Jan 28 (IANS) India’s Shubhankar Sharma, who came to Dubai with high hopes following a Top-10 finish in the Abu Dhabi Championships last week, missed the cut by a whisker at the US $9 million Hero Dubai Desert Classic 2023.
The 26-year-old shot 74 in the first round and looked set to make the cut after being four-under through his first nine holes at the Emirates Golf Club. Then coming to the front nine of the course, which was his second nine, Sharma had a roller-coaster ride with two birdies and three bogeys, the last of which came on the ninth his last hole of the second round. He missed a 3-foot par putt and made a bogey to miss the weekend action.
Meanwhile, Belgian Thomas Pieters produced fireworks late in his second round as he shot seven birdies on the back nine to share the lead at the halfway stage of the 2023 Hero Dubai Desert Classic.
The Belgian suffered the disappointment of missing the cut at last week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship as his title defence fell flat.
He has responded brilliantly at Emirates Golf Club this week, leading after the weather-affected first day before finishing his second round with a flourish on day three to sit alongside amateur Michael Thorbjornsen and Richard Bland on ten under par at the midway point.
Englishman Bland, who had made three birdies in the first four holes of his second round before play was suspended due to fading light on Friday, carded three more birdies and a solitary bogey in his remaining 14 holes on Saturday morning to sign for a second straight 67.
Pieters began the day on five under but carded three bogeys and just the one birdie on the front nine to appear in danger of missing the cut for the second week in succession.
But he turned things around on the back nine in the afternoon, as birdies at the tenth, 11th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 18th earned him a share of the lead
Swede Marcus Kinhult, Scotland’s Connor Syme and Spaniard Adri Arnaus sat one shot off the lead on nine under, with World Number One Rory McIlroy among those another stroke back.