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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Van Rooyen can apply Sunday pressure to Sharma

Indian goes clear in Johannesburg

Pre-tournament favourite Dylan Frittelli is 15 shots off the pace
1 of 1

Story so far

Shubhankar Sharma will take a five-shot lead into the final round of the Joburg Open, the Indian youngster taking control at the Firethorn course with a Saturday 65.

Sharma, 125-1 at the outset, is no bigger than 4-11 with 18 holes to play, having stretched clear of the field in round three.

Christofer Blomstrand carded a 62 to claim second place on his own, while Englishman James Morrison is tied for third place alongside the leading South African, Erik van Rooyen.

Third-round pacesetter, Tapio Pulkkanen, dropped into a share of fifth after a 73. Dylan Frittelli, market leader after Louis Oosthuizen withdrew, is in 50th place, 15 shots behind.

Leaderboard

-20 Shubhankar Sharma
-15 Cristofer Blomstrand
-14 James Morrison, Erik van Rooyen
-13 Marcus Armitage, Tapio Pulkkanen

Best prices

4-11 S Sharma, 10 C Blomstrand, 11 J Morrison, 12 E van Rooyen, 40 T Pulkkanen, M Armitage, 100 bar

Final-day advice

The Joburg Open is potentially a damp squib, with a 4-11 favourite five shots clear and only six players 40-1 or shorter, but a first European Tour title rarely comes easy.

Shubhankar Sharma is full of potential and was recommended at 125-1 for the Mauritius Open last week, but the 21-year-old has never won outside of his homeland. He has won five times on the Tour of India, but will not be anywhere near as comfortable about getting the job done in South Africa.

Given Sharma is not a prolific winner – he is yet to get off the mark on the Asian Tour – there must be every chance that his five-shot advantage disappears. He looks set to develop into a quality player, but the first victory is usually the most difficult to achieve.

Cristofer Blomstrand is the world number 503 and likely to be a bag of nerves having suddenly been launched into the final group. Sharma and Blomstrand could drag each other down if both arrive on the first tee full of tension.

Racing Post Sport followers are still entitled to have some hope in their heart for 60-1 ante-post pick Erik van Rooyen, who is tied for third spot. The local man got off to a slow start in round three, making bogey at two of the first three holes, and did well to grind out an under-par score. Van Rooyen, a winner on the Sunshine Tour and the Challenge Tour, is well capable of threatening Sharma if the Indian wobbles.

James Morrison has won two low-grade European Tour titles – the 2010 Madeira Islands Open and the 2015 Spanish Open – but the short-hitting Surrey man is not well suited to the Firethorn course.

The Joburg final round could be a case of whether Van Rooyen can catch Sharma.

Recommendation
E van Rooyen betting without Sharma
1pt 3-1 Coral, Ladbrokes

He looks set to develop into a quality player, but the first victory is usually the most difficult to achieve
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