North Berwick, October 5
India’s Shubhankar Sharma rounded off the week with a fine 4-under 67 that saw him finish tied-26 at the 2020 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open here.
It was Sharma’s best finish in the nine starts that he had since the European Tour re-started after the coronavirus-induced break. His previous best finish was tied-44 at Portugal Masters.
Aaron Rai of England, who has Indo-Kenyan origins, notched the biggest win of his career, beating World No. 14 Tommy Fleetwood in the first play-off hole.
It was his first Rolex Series and also carries him into World’s top-100.
Starting from the 10th, Sharma, who had 70-67-76 on first three days, birdied 12th, 13th, 17th and 18th to turn in a fine 4-under in his first nine. On resumption, he dropped a shot on 1st, which was his sole blemish before picking up a stroke on the 7th for a 67.
“I played very good today and was pleased with it especially after yesterday. I really want to come out and play well. I am quite happy about the week and I played well even on Saturday till the last five holes. Till then I was par for the first 12 holes before we hit the bad patch of weather,” said Sharma.
“On Saturday it was very difficult, my gloves were wet and it was difficult to even hold the clubs but I would say it was a different kind of experience. So a good learning for the future.
“As for playing a lot, I am feeling very fresh and happy that I am getting to play so many events. Sitting in India not being able to play was not easy. I still have some more events and I am looking forward to them after this week.”
Rai, whose only previous win was at the Hong Kong Open, carded a 7-under 64 to set the target at 11-under par but Fleetwood holed a 20-foot putt on the last for a closing birdie to take it to extra holes at The Renaissance Club.
It was advantage Fleetwood off the tee as Rai found a bunker but the 25-year-old rescued his par and when Fleetwood three-putted from just off the green, Rai had his second European Tour title.
Last week, Rai finished second at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. The win moves him into the top-five on the Race to Dubai Rankings.
“It’s incredible. I played a lot in Scotland growing up, dreamed of playing in a European Tour event in Scotland. To be able to play in it was incredible a couple of years ago and to be able to go still further is an incredible feeling,” said Rai.
Robert Rock missed out on a place in the play-off by one shot after a bogey on the last in a round of 70. Australian Lucas Herbert and home favourite Marc Warren were at 9-under after rounds of 65 and 66. PTI