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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Emiliano Grillo can bounce back from savage Saturday

Shubhankar Sharma leads in homeland

Emiliano Grillo has been swinging well on the US Tour
1 of 1

Sky Sports Golf, 5am Sunday

Story so far
Shubhankar Sharma made a slow start as 12-1 favourite for the Indian Open, but the rising star of European Tour golf has claimed a share of the lead with 18 holes to play at the DLF Club, New Delhi.

Sharma slipped five over par through nine holes of his first round, a sluggish effort in the wake of contending for the WGC-Mexico Championship last week, but 18 birdies have followed to leave the local hero at seven under par.

Sharma and Matt Wallace are tied at the top at the difficult Signature Course at DLF, with Stephen Gallacher alone in third spot. Halfway pacesetter, Emiliano Grillo, squandered a four-shot advantage to fall two shots behind.

Sharma is 19-10 market leader with Betfred going into the final round, with Wallace at 9-2 and Gallacher at 11-2. Grillo is available at 8-1, having been even-money after 36 holes.

-7 Matt Wallace, Shubhankar Sharma
-6 Stephen Gallacher
-5 Andrew Johnston, Matthias Schwab, Emiliano Grillo
-4 Sihwan Kim, Pablo Larrazabal

Best prices
19-10 Shubhankar Sharma, 9-2 M Wallace, 11-2 S Gallacher, 8 E Grillo, 9 A Johnston, 18 M Schwab, 20 P Larrazabal, 30 S Kim, 40 bar

Final-day advice
Shubhankar Sharma had significant jet-lag and a lack of mental energy to deal with when starting his Indian Open campaign, having arrived on Tuesday afternoon after a trek from Mexico, where he contended throughout the first WGC of the year.

The 21-year-old appeared to suffer a reaction to his Mexico heroics with a poor start at the DLF, but Sharma rapidly fought back to give himself a golden chance of home glory. He is affiliated with the DLF and knows the quirky layout better than anyone in the field.

Sharma, the Race to Dubai leader and a youngster who has taken his game to a new level over the last four months, has to be favourite with 18 holes to play. Punters who missed out on the early-week 14-1, though, must question whether the remaining 19-10 is worth taking.

Sharma has a new pressure to deal with on Sunday – a weight of expectation from his army of followers. He is the only Indian on the board – Ajeetesh Sandhu is the next, a distant nine shots behind. The Indian galleries will not only be wanting Sharma to triumph, they will be expecting him to, and that puts a lot on the plate of a player who was ranked outside of the world's top 500 four months ago.

Sharma is tempting at 19-10, but the price is not quite big enough to justify an investment on a peculiar track where one bad break can mean a double-bogey or worse. Outright punters are advised to concentrate on Sharma, Matthias Schwab and Emiliano Grillo, with the latter suggested as the best value option.

Schwab is a fine young talent, who would have been more established in the professional ranks had he not suffered some injury setbacks. The Austrian is a solid tee-to-green operator who enjoys difficult courses. He came through European Tour Q School in impressive fashion and should open his victory account at some stage over the next 12 months.

The 18-1 Schwab is worth a second glance, but a player who has already put silverware on his mantelpiece is preferred. Grillo endured a difficult third round, covering his first four holes in three over par to immediately surrender his lead, then carding doubles at the 13th and 14th. Having the annoying and spiky Pablo Larrazabal as playing partner did not help matters as Grillo slumped to a round of 78.

Typically, a six-over-par effort like that would destroy title hopes, but Grillo will have sat down quietly afterwards and realised he still has a massive chance of victory. His performance was so good over the first two days that he remains well in the trophy hunt.

The severe, borderline ridiculous course set-up for Saturday got the criticism it deserved, so expect European Tour chiefs to set the layout up in the same fashion they did for the first two rounds, which was clearly much more to the liking of Grillo.

The Argentinian birdied the 18th hole to at least finish on a positive note and he could easily slip back into the form of Thursday and Friday. It is not as if that 11-under-par 36-hole stretch came from nowhere either – his form coming into this event was superb.

Eighth place in a high-class Honda Classic was the latest of a series of solid US Tour performances from Grillo, who won on the Tour and the US Tour at the end of 2015. This crisp ball-striker can hold his position on the leaderboard in round four and take advantage if Sharma lets the tension of trying to win his national Open for the first time get to him.

The final threeball of Sharma, Wallace and Gallacher is scheduled off at 3.35am UK and Ireland time, a hot day with light breezes forecast.

Outright recommendation
E Grillo
2pts each-way 8-1 BoyleSports

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His performance was so good over the first two days that he remains well in the trophy hunt
E.W. Terms
Sky bet