Birmingham, Aug 1: India's Shubhankar Sharma tried hard but could not make the cut at the Hero Open in Birmingham, missing out on weekend action in his first start since the return of competitive golf on the European Tour.
The 24-year-old, who shot 73 in the first round, seemed to have put himself way off the cut line with three bogeys on the trot around the turn as he dropped shots on ninth, 10th and 11th holes at which point he was four-over for the tournament.
The cut looked likely at two-under.
Sharma produced four birdies, three in a row from 12th to 14th and one more on 17th, but failed to get any more and missed out.
Sam Horsfield moved into contention with a superb nine under 63, which included a hole-out eagle, taking him to the top of the leaderboard alongside Spaniard Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez (69).
First round leader Garcia Rodriguez showed no signs of nerves after opening the tournament with a course record 62, as he picked up five birdies including one at the par three 18th hole on way to a three under second round 69.
"I gave it all and played the last seven holes very well. But it was probably a case too much to cover up. My real game showed up on that back stretch, but I had too much of a gap to make up," said Sharma.
"After three birdies, I did think of an eagle on par-5 17th, but the second shot, a 6-Iron came to the edge and I only managed a birdie."
"It was also windy and not calm like earlier in the day," he added.
"The two holes, tenth and 11th cost me heavily. I dropped five shots over two days on those two holes. In the second round I had a three-putt on one and another one I hit to the left and did not make an up-and-down."
"On the 18th, a challenging par-3 and I did find the green, but it was way off almost 50 feet."
As for the first week in the UK and competition after a long lay-off due to the pandemic, Sharma said the "game seemed okay".
"... but some fine tuning and it should be fine again. We all stay in a bubble and I will be here till Sunday and practice here while others battle it out for Hero Open. Then we (including his caddy Gurbaaz) drive to Hertfordshire, where we will be tested again.
"There are the usual nasal and throat swabs and we wait for three to four hours before we get the results and then get to the course. The safety arrangements have been good, so no tension."
Horsfield got off to a perfect start on day two at Forest of Arden Marriott Golf and Country Club, opening with a birdie before holing his wedge approach from 110 yards at the fourth hole.
Back-to-back birdies at the sixth and seventh had him five under at the turn and four birdies on the back nine moved him into a share of the lead on 13 under par.
The Englishman is looking to become the first home player since Lee Westwood in 1998 to win the event, which was formerly known as the English Open.The two leaders were three strokes clear of the nearest challenger, Belgium's Thomas Detry, who carded a second successive 67 for a ten under total. Agencies