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Shubhankar Sharma leads by two at the WGC in Mexico City

Xander Schauffele, Rafa Cabrera Bello and Sergio Garcia are all in contention two shots behind.

Shubhankar Sharma’s remarkable rise continued to gather pace at the WGC–Mexico Championship as he claimed a two-shot halfway lead at Chapultepec Golf Club.

The 21-year-old from India was outside the world’s top 450 when he won the Joburg Open in December, and he followed that up with victory in Malaysia last month.

Those wins have put Sharma top of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, while he has also risen to 75th in the official world golf ranking.

Making his World Golf Championships debut, Sharma opened with a round of 65 on Thursday and stormed home in 31 to follow up with a five under par 66.

At 11 under for the week Sharma leads by two from Spaniards Rafa Cabrera Bello and Sergio Garcia, as well as American Xander Schauffele.

“I’m really happy,” Sharma said in quotes reported on the European Tour website. “I couldn’t be in a better situation.

“I played so well, and the bogeys that I made today were just three-putts. Otherwise I just get the ball in play all day and it was great to finish with three birdies in a row.

“I thought about nothing, I just wanted to have fun. It’s my first WGC and I was happy that I’ll play four days because I missed the cut in the last two events that I played. Even though I missed the cuts, I knew I was playing well. So I just wanted to have fun, and yeah, I’ve had a lot of fun.

“I worked all my life to come and play at a high stage like this. You have to expect great things from yourself if you want to play at a high stage.”

Having made a perfect start by driving to a couple of feet on the reachable first and converting for eagle, Sharma three-putted the second and third for consecutive bogeys.

However, he reeled off five unanswered birdies on the back nine – including a hat-trick over the last three holes – to continue a remarkable first WGC appearance.

Garcia eagled the 11th from 20 feet and also had four birdies in a round of 65, while his compatriot Cabrera Bello birdied four of his first six holes, and eagled the 15th, as well as carding two bogeys in a 67.

Schauffele goes into the weekend bogey-free after the 24-year-old carded three birdies in a 68.

England’s Chris Paisley went from six-under-par midway through his second round to two-under-par after dropping four shots in three holes on his back nine.

Press Association

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