Harding leads after round one
Justin Harding (Gallo Images)
George - Justin Harding built a three stroke lead on Wednesday with flawless golf played under cloudy skies which threatened burst open at any moment in the first round of the Vodacom Business Origins of Golf Final at Oubaai Golf Resort and Spa.
Harding received a stroke of luck on Tuesday when he only found out after completing his pre-qualifying round – in which he shot a solid 71 – that he was already exempt after a late withdrawal by Eugen Marugi. He took full advantage of this, and put in four birdies and 14 more pars to complete a fine four-under par 68 and finish as the only player without a blemish on his card.
“It was very difficult out there,” he said. “The wind got up. It was gusty. It was swirling, and it was difficult to choose clubs. I played nicely. Made a couple of putts, and missed a couple, but I’ll take it.”
Harding has had some very good experiences on this layout, albeit six years ago, when he stormed ahead to win the Southern Cape Open by a large margin at the age of just 18. He remembers that victory quite vividly and said that he was only too excited to get back out here and try to repeat that success once more.
His fine play in the opening round has put him just one step closer to that goal.
Harding wasn’t bothered at all by the difficulty of the tough Ernie Els design and even went as far as to say that it was quite forgiving, especially off the tees.
“It’s relatively forgiving. Off the tee, visually it’s relatively wide but when the wind blows like this, it could be wider,” he chuckled.
Martin Maritz, who shared the lead on one-under par after the morning round, did not share Harding’s opinion and was slightly more critical about the length of the course.
“You feel like you’re wearing out your long irons this week. Some of the par threes are very long. Even the par fives into the wind, you’re hitting long irons in for your third shot. And if you hit it in the fairway bunkers you’re in trouble. It’s a long course,” he said
The much anticipated showdown between Jean Hugo and Jaco van Zyl took a turn for the worse along with the weather as neither of them could get a run going, with Van Zyl eventually signing off with a four-over par 76, which included an eagle at the par-five ninth hole. Hugo was less fortunate and suffered a rough front nine of eight-over par to come in with an eight-over par 80.Scores (RSA unless specified):
68 - Justin Harding
71 - Ryan Cairns (ZIM), Willie van der Merwe, Martin Maritz, Bradford Vaughan, Alan Michell, Grant Veenstra
72 - Derik Ferreira, Darren Blair, Josh Cunliffe, Michiel Bothma, Darren Fichardt
73 - Ryan Tipping, Merrick Bremner, Neil Cheetham (ENG)
74 - Charl Coetzee, Tyrone Mordt, Grant Muller, David Hewan, Shaun Norris, Neil Schietekat, Ulrich van den Berg, Oliver Bekker, Keenan Davidse
75 - Brian Lee, PH McIntyre, Warren Abery, Jaco Ahlers, Chris Swanepoel, Irvin Mazibuko, Steve Basson, Anthony Michael, Daniel Greene, Reggie Adams
76 - Divan van den Heever, Heinrich Bruiners, Des Terblanche, Jaco Van Zyl, Louis Moolman
77 - Andre Cruse, Ryan Thompson, Matthew Carvell, Dean Burmester, Stuart Clark (WAL), Christiaan Basson, Mark Murless, Thabang Simon, Louis Calitz
78 - Kevin Stone, Brett Liddle, Johan du Buisson, Colin Nel, Omar Sandys, Theunis Spangenberg, Titch Moore, Doug McGuigan, Michael Scholz
79 - Andrew Curlewis, Prinavin Nelson, Desvonde Botes, Dion Fourie, TC Charamba (ZIM)
80 - Steven Ferreira, Francois van Vuuren, Gerhard Trytsman, Jean Hugo
82 - Darryn Lloyd, Jacques Blaauw, Lindani Ndwandwe
83 - Nic Henning, Adrian Ford
84 - Cameron Esau