Battling Sharmila stays in title hunt

Battling Sharmila stays in title hunt

Despite being under the weather, Sharmila Nicollet kept herself in the title hunt with a steady two-under 70 that brought her to 6-under for 36 holes at the Le Coq Sportif Beijing Ladies Classic.

Sharmila is lying tied-2nd and one shot behind the leader, a 16-year-old amateur Liu Wenbo, who shot six-under 66 on the second day. Liu carded 71 on first day.

Sharmila shares the second place with China’s 19-year-old Shi Yuting (73-66) and Sui Xiang (71-68). Shi, who plays on Japan Ladies Tour, retained her Chinese National title last week and also helped her side win the team event.

Sharmila, one of the five co-leaders after the first round, said she was still running slight fever for the last few days.

She opened with a bogey but soon steadied herself. She had birdies on 13th, her fourth hole of the day, the par-3 17th and par-5 fourth and no more bogeys.

With rounds of 68-70 on first two days, Sharmila has been playing consistent and said, “I just want to stay fit and calm for one more day as I have been somewhat under weather, but my game is in good shape.”

She said, “My goal has been to keep playing under par and results will follow. It was so in Hong Kong, where I was T-16 and here I have been maintaining that.”

 Lahiri starts well

With a new putter in his bag, Anirban Lahiri reeled off three birdies in a row and finished the day at a solid three-under 67 in the first round of the Fort Worth Invitational at the Colonial Country Club on Thursday.

Lahiri, who had put the new putter in his bag a day earlier, carded five birdies against two bogeys and was T-19th after the opening day.

The Indian had finished with an eagle and a couple of birdies in last three holes at last week's AT&T Byron Nelson Championships and continued his good run on the opening day here.

The 30-year-old Lahiri was error free on the front nine as he followed up birdies on first three holes with a fourth on ninth by holing a huge putt from 32 feet.

He dropped a bogey on 12th and another on 14th, when he missed from inside six feet. But he finished the day with 25-footer for birdie on 18th and was three-under 67.

Meanwhile, young Shubhankar Sharma -- playing on an invite -- suffered a disastrous triple on 15th, his sixth hole of the day. He had another bogey on 17th, but settled thereafter. He birdied the 10th and parred the entire back nine for a round of 73.

Kevin Na chipped in from 90 feet after two wayward shots on his closing hole, the ninth, to grab sole lead at eight-under 62, one clear of Charley Hoffman (63), who was also bogey free like Na.