Sharma upstages big names to take halfway lead in Mexico

India's Shubhankar Sharma has upstaged the biggest names in golf by eagling the first hole on the way a two-shot halfway lead at the WGC-Mexico Championship.

He was at 11-under 131, two ahead of Masters champion Sergio Garcia, Xander Schauffele and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

Leader Louis Oosthuizen headed Xander Schauffele, Sharma and Chris Paisley by a stroke on a day when defending champion Dustin Johnson hit a 69 that included a near ace at the 17th, his ball landing beyond the pin and spinning back nearly into the hole.

Sharma, the only two-time victor on the European Tour this season who leads the Race to Dubai, is No. 75 in the world.

Starting his day from the 10th tee, Sharma birdied 11 and 12 from 13 and two feet respectively before rolling in a tricky 15-footer for his third birdie on 18.

Sharma said the key to his good play had been adjusting to the yardage difference in play at the Club de Golf Chapultepec which is 7,500 feet above sea level.

"When I came out on Monday I was so overawed by just so many people being here and so many kids coming up to me and asking for autographs", he told PGA Tour radio after his round. Even though I missed the cuts, I knew I was playing well.

"I worked all my life to come and play at a high stage like this", said Sharma, who turned pro when he was 16.

Sharma said he consistently found the fairways during the round and is happy with his drive.

"I hit the ball well".

Former world number one Spieth posted a second-round 67 and the American star said: "You feel like you need to make a lot of birdies, but I believe [the winning score] will be somewhere around that again, around 14 under again". You really need that to have to go low, especially on a course like this. "Just playing well here this week will get my closer to my dream". "But I'm very happy with the way I've managed myself and just looking forward to the next two days".

Now ranked 75th in the world, he needs to climb into the top 50 in the next four weeks, or better yet win a tournament, to qualify for Augusta National.

  • Steve Townsend