Hero Indian Open: Matt Wallace and Shubhankar Sharma share lead

Golf
Matt Wallace shares the lead in India
Matt Wallace shares the lead in India

Matt Wallace produced a brilliant battling round of 70 to share the lead with the in-form Shubhankar Sharma heading into the final round of the Hero Indian Open.

Day three leaders

-7 Shubhankar Sharma, Matt Wallace

-6 Stephen Gallacher

-5 Andrew Johnston, Matthias Schwab, Emiliano Gillo

Day three

Matt Wallace produced a brilliant battling round of 70 to share the lead with the in-form Shubhankar Sharma heading into the final round of the Hero Indian Open.

On a day when just nine players fired under-par rounds in New Delhi, Wallace's two-under effort moved him to seven under and a position to continue his rapid rise through the ranks and he's now 9/2 second-favourite for the title.

The Englishman won six times on the Alps Tour in 2016 - including five in as many starts - to earn a place on the Challenge Tour and wasted no time in winning the Open de Portugal to gain his European Tour card.

"I'm very happy," he told europeantour.com. "There are some brilliant players up there.

"You know there is going to be a charge tomorrow and someone is going to play well. I just have to go out there and try to execute like I did today and see how it goes.

"Every hole is a test. Every hole is a double bogey waiting to happen. I just took every hole as it came and played it as well as possible. That eagle on nine was probably the highlight of my week - and year - so far."

After three birdies and a bogey in his first five holes on Saturday, he led for the first time when he drove the ninth green with an iron and holed a tricky double-breaker for an eagle.

He made three bogeys to a single birdie on the way home but that was good enough to leave him alongside 15/8 favourite Sharma in top spot.

The Indian has already won twice this season to lead the Race to Dubai and held the 54-hole lead at last week's WGC-Mexico Championship as his stock continues to rise.

The 21-year-old had made four birdies and three bogeys before dropping two shots on the 17th, but a birdie on the last put him back in the lead.

"I'm just looking forward to playing out there again," he said. "I just want to have fun.

"It's the second week in the row I'm in the leading group. I'm going to draw from my experiences last week. I know it's going to be a battle out there tomorrow and I'll be ready for it.

Scotland's Stephen Gallacher produced the lowest round of the day with a 67 to sit a shot off the lead as the 2014 Ryder Cup winner looks for a first individual victory in four years.

England's Andrew Johnston was at five under alongside Argentinian Emiliano Grillo - who entered the day with a four-shot lead but battled to a 78 - and Austrian Matthias Schwab.

Day two report

Emiliano Grillo built on a fine opening round to establish a four-shot lead approaching the halfway stage of the Hero Indian Open.

Having opened with a round of 65 which he called "almost perfect", the 25-year-old was close to flawless again with his sole bogey in a Friday 68 coming at his final hole.

Grillo told Sky Sports: "I actually thought I played better today than yesterday, I just didn't hole as many putts. That was the difference.

"It was definitely two good days out there. I hit a lot of fairways and greens and hopefully I can keep that up in the next two days."

Despite that dropped shot, an 11-under total gave him a healthy lead over the chasing pack but Shubhankar Sharma looks a big threat having stormed through the field to sit second.

Sharma only arrived at the course on Tuesday having finished ninth in the WGC-Mexico Championship last weekend, after which he was awarded a Masters invite by the Augusta committee.

His lack of preparation told over the first nine holes of the event as he went out in 41 strokes, five-over par, but 12 birdies over the following 27 holes having lifted the promising 21-year-old into contention.

Sharma's final birdie on Friday completed a course-record 64 and saw him move ahead of Pablo Larrazabal and Andrew Johnston on six-under.

"Today's round will definitely rank up there as one of my most significant achievements, especially when it is played at this course," Sharma said. "This is a tough course and it is not easy to go low here. I'm very happy with the way I played. I've shot a few low numbers in my career and this one is in my top five.

"If you told me I would be seven under par going into the weekend after being five over par on my opening nine holes I would just have laughed. To be able to bounce back is really important, I knew I was playing well and I had to push myself a little.

"I knew the course record was seven under par. To hold the record on my home course would mean a lot to me and that was why I decided to go for the green (on the par-five 18th)."

Larrazabal had made two bogeys to cancel out a pair of birdies on his opening nine, but a four at the last courtesy of a delicate chip briefly earned him second place before Sharma's late charge.

Johnston also signed off with a birdie, his seventh of the day in an impressive 66 to sit in a tie for third with Larrazabal, providing a classy chasing pack for the leader to attempt to keep at bay.

Ben Coley's 140/1 tip Sebastien Gros is inside the top 10 after a one-under 71 added to his opening 66.

Day one report

Emiliano Grillo made a seamless transition to the European Tour as his opening 65 set the clubhouse target before play was suspended in the Hero Indian Open.

Although yet to win on the circuit, Grillo has progressed from the European Tour to the PGA Tour where he is a winner, and his latest start was a top-10 finish in the high-class Honda Classic won by Justin Thomas.

That form saw him priced up as one of the key dangers to home favourites Shubhankar Sharma and Anirban Lahiri and he now heads the betting on his own following an outstanding seven-under start at DLF G&CC.

"You have no idea how difficult the course is," he told europeantour.com. "I had to play almost perfect golf to shoot a seven under.

"I think anywhere else it would have been close to a 59 or something. It was definitely a magnificent round of golf.

"I'm very happy with the way I handled myself out there. It was very tough and I was able to make some good putts and hit the fairways when I needed to."

When play was suspended due to darkness, only Keith Horne (five-under through 16) held any chance of matching Grillo's total. He sits in a share of second with Pablo Larrazabal, Paul Peterson, Matteo Manassero and Adrien Saddier, all of whom have completed their rounds bar the latter who has one hole to play.

Larrazabal was almost late for his tee-time after the alarm on his new phone failed but a hurried preparation made little difference as he carded nine birdies in a round of 67, despite four-putting the 15th for a double-bogey to go with mistakes at the first and ninth holes.

Peterson also made a seven at the 15th hole and while scoring was improved on 2017, there were still some big numbers on scorecards which meant for lengthy rounds. Promising local Rashid Khan was among three players to card a nine, while two of the home contingent shot 86.

Grillo, though, was largely error-free and is all the way into 5/2 from 16/1 with Sky Bet, who make Larrazabal the biggest danger at 10/1.

Ben Coley's 140/1 selection Sebastien Gros produced a remarkable eagle on his way to an opening 69 to stay in touch with the leader, while Lahiri shot level par and Sharma fought his way back to a one-over 73.

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