Paphos (Cyprus), Nov. 1: Indian golfer Shubhankar Sharma endured a tough day on the greens but managed to hang on for a gritty 2-under 69 in the third round that kept him in with a chance for a strong finish at the inaugural Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Open here.
Starting the day at 9-under and in Tied-sixth place, Sharma ended at 11-under but T-12th. He is, however, only three behind leader Jamie Donaldson (69), who is 14-under. Five players are at 13-under, as 15 golfers are within four shots of the lead.
Sharma parred his first nine holes before making back-to-back birdies, sparking hope of a fine back nine. However, putting continued to be an irritant and he also dropped a shot on 16th.
On the 18th, he had a 15-18 footer for eagle after two great shots to the green, but did not make the eagle. He did manage a birdie for a closing 69.
“A mixed bag, that’s what the round was,” said Sharma, who was also happy that he did not allow shots to slip away and was still in with a chance.
“This is a course where you can go low, so it is important to let loose shots creep in.”
The 2014 Ryder Cup star Donaldson will go in search of his first European Tour title in more than six years as he takes a one-stroke lead into the final round.
The Welshman, a three-time winner on the European Tour, won his last title at the D+D Real Czech Masters in 2014 and is playing on an invitation this week. The 45-year-old birdied the last to reach 14 under par and move one shot ahead of five players who share second place.
Four of those five are chasing their first win on the European Tour, including Scotland’s David Drysdale, who would equal Malcolm Mackenzie’s record of playing 509 tournaments before achieving his first victory.
Also in the hunt are England’s Marcus Armitage, Thomas Detry of Belgium and the Finnish pair of Kalle Samooja and Sami Valimaki, who won the Oman Open in March.
Samooja started the third round six strokes off the pace, but carded the lowest round of the day, a seven under par 64, to move into contention.
Armitage, Detry, Drysdale and Samooja have all previously won on the European Challenge Tour.-PTI