Shubhankar eyes best finish by Indian at British Open

Shubhankar Sharma is on track to post the best ever finish by an Indian at the British Open after competing his third round in a tie for ninth place at drizzly Royal Liverpool on Saturday.

The 27-year-old compiled a round of 70 and finished on four under par, eight strokes behind runaway leader Brian Harman.

Sharma downed a monster eagle putt at the fifth then reeled off 10 successive pars before his only dropped shot of the day.

Jyoti Randhawa holds the record for the best result by an Indian at the Open, finishing tied for 27th at Troon in 2004.

Sharma played in all four majors in 2018, but only survived the cut at the Open, finishing 51st.

Barring a calamitous final round on Sunday he looks primed to better that and surpass Randhawa’s feat.

“Very pleased with myself. I played solid. Just one shot off the top five,” he said. “Played great all three days. Scrambled really well. Made a lot of crucial putts, which I wasn’t holing in the past month or so.”

Sharma, who learned how to play on Army courses in India courtesy of his father who was in the military, said he would just carry on grinding it out on Sunday.

“I’ll stick to my processes that I’ve done in the first three days, maybe make a few adjustments on things that I need to do, just go in with the same mentality that I have had for the first few days,” he said.

“Tomorrow is a new day. I don’t know when the Open will be back here, so fourth round at a major, Liverpool, I’m really happy, and I’ll give it my best.”

The best finish by an Indian player at a men’s major is Anirban Lahiri’s tied fifth finish at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in 2015.

Harman stays five clear as Rahm makes his move

American Harman held his nerve with a third-round 69 to lead the Open by five shots as Spaniard Jon Rahm soared into contention with a course-record 63 at Hoylake.

Harman, seeking his first major title, dropped two shots in the first four holes before birdies at the fifth, ninth, 12th and 13th took him to 12 under par, five ahead of American Cameron Young and six clear of Rahm.

The 36-year-old Harman, world number 26, showed great courage and composure after his shaky start, particularly as it happened just after Rahm had completed his round to ramp up the pressure.

World number three Rahm conjured up eight birdies in a majestic display of ball-striking to give himself a chance to win his third major crown and second of the year.

Young, runner-up at St Andrews last year, quietly plotted his way around the course to pick up six birdies in a round of 66.

Norway’s Viktor Hovland shot 66 to move to five under, level with Frenchman Antoine Rozner, Austrian Sepp Straka, Australian Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood whose hopes of becoming the first English winner of the Open for 31 years faded with a 71.

World number two Rory McIlroy collected three early birdies before losing momentum en route to a 69 and at three under par his hopes of claiming a fifth major title at the scene of his 2014 Open triumph are hanging by a thread.

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