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Scent of Tiger in the air as wind picks up at Carnoustie

V Krishnaswamy Carnoustie (Scotland) | Updated on July 22, 2018 Published on July 22, 2018

Tiger Woods of the US at the 147th Open Championship, Carnoustie, Scotland, on Sunday. - REUTERS

Shubhankar Sharma finishes 51st

Major Number 15 has been sighted. Tiger Woods, lying tied-6th after 54 holes, had moved into sole lead by the end of the front nine of the 147th Open Championships.

The deficit of four had not only been whittled down to nothing, but was now an advantage of one at the Carnoustie Golf Links on Sunday.

The drama was intensifying as the players were being tested by the winds from the edge of the North Sea gusting between 20 and 22 miles per hour.

But there was a different buzz in the air. This was like old times – Woods striding down the fairway in the familiar red shirt and black trousers and on top of the leaderboard was ‘that’ familiar name – Tiger Woods.

 

 

 

After birdies on fourth and sixth, he did drop a shot on 10th, but he was still tied for the lead with his playing partner Francesco Molinari, who now remained as the only bogey-free player on the course.

However, long before the late afternoon drama unfolded, Shubhankar Sharma had finished his tryst with Carnoustie.

Two pars round flanked by rounds of 73 on first and last days brought him a total of 4-over 288 and he was T-51st, a position that could become better as others finish in windy weather.

It was Tied-54th for now, but Sharma should soon better that as he comes more often to Links courses and The Open, where he may well be spending his birthdays from here on. This time his 22nd birthday fell on the Saturday of the Open and next year at Royal Portrush in Ireland, it will be the Sunday.

Woods, who won his last Major exactly 10 years and 40 Majors ago, at the 2008 US Open, was making the big move.

Starting the final day four shots behind the leader, Woods had two birdies in first six holes, while others were dropping shots in a bunch.

Of the three overnight leaders, Xander Schauffele was exploring all unexplored parts of the course and dropping fast and was down to 5-under from 9-under.

Spieth had dropped from 9-under to 6-under in eight holes and Kisner was down from 9-under to 5-under at the end of front nine.

Rory McIlroy was one-over for front nine but got a birdie at 11th to be 5-under and Tied-4th.

The Open is far from over as the top players approach in the back nine. And no one has more experience of stalking down a Major like Woods in this field.

Better start for Sharma

In the morning, playing with no pressure and in conditions that were nearly as good as the third day, Sharma was relaxed at his first Sunday at a Major which got ruined in a four-hole stretch in the middle.

Sharma, who had just one birdie on the front nine in the first three days, had a better start on Sunday with birdies on second and fifth, with two brilliant second shots that gave him excellent birdie chances, which he converted. A sub-par round seemed to be on the cards.

However, around the seventh, he was also spoken to by a Rules official who continued to do so on eighth. It was obviously to speed up play and that seemed to affect Sharma’s concentration.

A bogey on eighth, missed chances on ninth and tenth, followed by another bogey on 11th put brakes on what was a promising start. He rounded off the week with bogeys on 13th and 15th and parred the rest.

Sharma admitted, “It was a tough finish for me but I started off well. I was hitting it good and then I lost my concentration in the middle and made some bogeys. I was trying hard to get the momentum back towards the end of the round. I was happy to give myself a birdie putt on the last even though I didn’t make it.”

He added, “I can’t wait to come back here again next time. I will draw on the experiences that I got this week. Felt a little pressure but only on the second day when I was outside the cutline and I really wanted to play the weekend because it was my birthday yesterday. I didn’t want to be sad on my birthday.”

When play began Sunday, there were 12 players within four shots of the lead. Of the top five, only Jordan Spieth, one of the three-co-leaders, has won Majors, actually three.

But, barring Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson, none in the Top-12 have played as a pro at a Major won by Woods.

For those with an appetite for stats, Tiger, an extraordinary front-runner has never won a Major while trailing into the final round. He could change that on Sunday.

On Saturday, when Woods was asked what a win at the Open would mean, he said, “We’re not there yet. I know what you’re trying to say in asking, but let me try to get there first. Then ask me again.”

Published on July 22, 2018

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