March 22, 2018

Shubhankar Sharma is tied second after first round at World Golf Championships

04 March 2018, 01:55 | Kristopher Drake

Shubhankar Sharma gets ready for maiden World Golf Championship

Eye-popping distances expected at World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship

He leads a young trio of Shubhankar Sharma, Chris Paisley and Xander Schauffele by one shot on six under.

These are world-class events and by definition a collection of the globe's best and brightest, but history shows that these WGC soirees go to chalk more times than not.

Instead, Thursday at Chapultepec Golf Club delivered a mixed bag of compelling, if not little-known, players and just as many out-of-character performances.

It was a mixed day for Johnson aside from the near-ace, adding six birdies, a double bogey and two bogeys. "I've been swinging it pretty good the last three, four weeks, felt I played really well last week". (It was) a bit of a scrappy finish with a few missed clubs and a poor shot on 17 but I held it together.

Consider Paisley, who describes himself on his Twitter account as a "diminutive golfer from Newcastle, the anti-DJ".

"It's the biggest tournament I've played in by a long stretch", Paisley said.

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Last week's Honda Classic victor, Justin Thomas, never found his rhythm in the opening round and signed for a 1-over 72to be T39. "It's a helpless feeling just because it's a course that you feel like you can score, make a lot of birdies on", Thomas said.

"I'm just playing really solid", Oosthuizen told Sky Sports.

But for him to defend his title, he will have to fight off every top 50 player except for Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, and Brooks Koepka, making it as deep a field as one will find ahead of the Masters. Updates with Sharma at 65.

Paisley won the South African Open in January - his first European Tour victory - and followed up with consecutive top-five finishes against strong worldwide fields in the Middle East. 3, 4 and 5 in 4 over par to plunge down the leaderboard. Paisley and Sharm both have wins on the European Tour this season whilst the American Shauffele picked up two wins on the PGA Tour last season, including the lucrative end of season Tour Championship.

Among the other top players in the field this week are world number two Jon Rahm, who finished third here a year ago, and reigning Player of the Year Justin Thomas, fresh from his Sunday triumph at the Honda Open and showing no signs of slowing down.

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