Bland is at 5-under and T14 with 36 holes to play but it is the 21-year-old from India who is the surprise performer so far, the only player double digits under par after opening scores of 66-65.
Sharma earned his place in this week’s field courtesy of two early season victories on the European Tour which has him leading the Race to Dubai but his step up in form in this class of field has been a revelation.
Despite admitting being uncomfortable early in the week Sharma hs clearly adapted to the big stage with little trouble thus far and is eager to get underway for the weekend.
“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.
“It’s really been an experience and I just topped it off by playing well in the first two days so I’m really happy with everything.”
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.
“I’ve been good at my yardages this week which I wasn’t really comfortable with on Monday,” he said.
“But I put in a lot of work to get my yardages dialled in and I think that’s very important here. Sometimes you’ve got to pick some crazy clubs off the tee and even into the greens.
“Sometimes you have to take very, very short clubs like maybe a pitching wedge from 160, 170 yards. But I’m very happy with the way I’ve managed myself and just looking forward to the next two days.”
For Bland, too, the event is a step up in class from his usual playing arena of the Japan Tour but the South Australian has found his mojo at the perfect time in Mexico.
After a birdie/bogey start a second birdie of the day at the fourth sent him to the turn 1-under but it was three back nine gains that really vaulted him up the standings.
At 5-under for the week he finds himself alongside not only the highest ranked Australian in the field, Marc Leishman, but also the likes of Jordan Spieth, Daniel Berger and Phil Mickelson.
Bland wasn’t the only Australian to go low Friday with Wade Ormsby, smarting after an opening 79, also around in 67 to leapfrog 11 players and be T53.
Brett Rumford struggled for the second straight day with a 74 to be 10-over and sharing last place with China’s HaoTong Li.
Sharma’s lead at the top is two from American Xander Schauffele and the Spanish pair of Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera-Bello with another two shots back to a group of seven players at 7-under and T5.
Among those is overnight leader Louis Oosthuizen, defending champion and World Number One Dustin Johnson and Thai star and Perth World Super 6 champion Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
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