December 9, 2017 / 2:57 PM / 8 months ago

Golf: Sharma closes in on maiden tour win at Joburg Open

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - India’s Shubhanker Sharma produced a birdie-fuelled 65 to claim a five-shot lead at the European Tour’s Joburg Open on Saturday to enter the final round with an excellent chance of claiming a maiden professional title.

Sharma, 21, who carded a 61 on Friday and has a previous best finish on the European Tour of tied-ninth at the Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur in February, sank seven birdies and has a tournament total of 20 under par, five shots ahead of second-placed Swede Christofer Blomstrand.

Celebrating his 26th birthday, Blomstrand got the perfect present when he carded a 62 that even included two bogeys but also eight birdies and two eagles.

England’s James Morrison (67) and South African Erik van Rooyen (70) are tied for third at 14 under par.

Overnight leader Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland had a round to forget as he could manage only a 73 on a day of low scores to enter the final round seven shots back.

The top three finishers at the Randpark Golf Club, who are not already exempt, will earn a place at next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Links.

Reporting By Nick Said; editing by Clare Fallon

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