Harding bogey-free in share of Wentworth lead

Oct 8, 2020 | Featured, South Africans abroad

Justin Harding posted a bogey-free six-under-par 66 on Thursday to grab a share of the three-way lead in the first round of the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Golf Club.

He shared the lead with England’s Tyrell Hatton and Spain’s Adri Arnaus, with Matthew Fitzpatrick, Open champion Shane Lowry and Eddie Pepperell a shot back on five-under-par in the lucrative and important Rolex Series tournament.

“I think the thing that makes me most happy is there were no bogeys,” said Harding. Arnaus also made six birdies and no bogeys in his round, while Hatton made and eagle, five birdies and a bogey in his.

“I played good, solid’” said Harding. “I had good control of my ball flight and my irons. It was just a matter of trying to find a few fairways and seeing if I could give myself a couple chances on the greens.

“I put a couple in close. As I said, felt like I had a lot of good numbers out there, and when I didn’t, I played away from the hole. It was pretty good course management.”

Garrick Higgo was the next best South African in the field at three-under-par 69, followed by Christiaan Bezuidenhout at level-par 72. Dean Burmester was one-over, George Coetzee at two-over, Thomas Aiken three-over, Branden Grace, Brandon Stone and Erik van Rooyen four-over, Justin Walters five-over.

Defending champion Danny Willett signed for a one-over 71, while last week’s European Tour winner Aaron Rai was at four-under together with former US Open champion and Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose. The European Tour’s Race to Dubai leader Patrick Reed of the US was at three-under after the opening round.

Looking at the strength of the field, Harding pointed out the importance of the tournament to the players, even in the absence of spectators. “I think everyone teeing it up knows the stature of the event and how important it is for the season,” he said. “It’s obviously an opportunity to have all the big guns out and playing, and any golfer wants to taste the best out there.”

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