Joburg joy for Sharma

11 December 2017 20:15:19 GMTPlus10

Shubhankar Sharma kept his cool in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open and completed a three-shot win over Erik van Rooyen.

A huge downpour on Sunday meant the Indian had to sleep on the lead and return to Randpark Golf Club early on Monday with 11 holes still to play.

His four-shot advantage was immediately cut to three when local South African van Rooyen tapped in for birdie.

I hit the ball good and I putted really well but the key up-and-downs I made over the first three days, I think I only missed two up-and-downs over the whole week.

Shubhankar Sharma

But the 21-year-old Sharma showed impressive maturity to keep his rivals at bay on the back nine and signed for a closing three-under-par 69 to finish at 23-under.

Sharma's second reward was a place in the Open Championship at Carnoustie next summer, something also given to van Rooyen and fellow South African Shaun Norris, who finished in a tie for third.

After landing a first European Tour win on just his 10th start at this level, Sharma said: "It feels absolutely wonderful to have won this week.

"I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago and I decided to come so I'm really happy that I came. This is my first time in South Africa and I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.

"I hit the ball good and I putted really well but the key up-and-downs I made over the first three days, I think I only missed two up-and-downs over the whole week.

"Even today, the up-and-downs I made on the tenth, the 13th and the 15th were very crucial. Once in a while you just have to make a few par saves to get a round going and I did just that the whole week."

Sharma will be playing in his first Open Championship, for which defending champion Jordan Spieth is 17.00, with Rory McIlroy 17.00, Dustin Johnson 12.00 and Rickie Fowler 17.00.

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