Justin Harding made an eagle, six birdies and a bogey on Saturday on his way to a third-round seven-under-par 64 to grab the lead in the European Tour’s Magical Kenya Open at Karen Country Club in Nairobi.
He had a share of second in the tournament in 2019, his breakthrough year, and, after a second round which frustrated him – and his fans – when he made three bogeys in his final six holes after getting it to seven-under on the day, he did the same today. And, when the first bogey came at exactly the same point at the 13th hole, this time he held it together, and made a birdie on 18 to rectify things.
“I played pretty well,” he said. “I hit it solidly the first 12 holes. I managed to make a couple of putts. I holed a wedge on 10 for eagle, which was a bonus. After that, it was my usual struggles on 13 all the way through to 17. I managed to roll in a good putt on 18 to give myself an extra boost.”
He had no explanation for his battles on 13. “It’s just a spunky golf hole,” he said. “It’s just a four-iron and an eight-iron into the green. I just can’t seem to find the fairway.”
He leads Australian Scott Hend and Americans Kurt Kitayama and Johannes Veerman by two at 16-under-par, with Scot Calum Hill in fifth place at 13-under.
South Africans Garrick Higgo, Jayden Schaper and Dean Burmester are in a share of seventh at 10-under. Jacques Kruyswijk is in a share of 17th at eight-under, with Louis de Jager, Darren Fichardt and Justin Walters in 28th at seven-under. George Coetzee is at six-under together with Wilco Nienaber, and JC Ritchie is at five-under. Haydn Porteous is the last of the South Africans to have made the cut, and he is at two over after a third-round 75.
For Harding, the return to form comes at a good time, and he will push hard for victory. “I’ll give it my best effort,” he said. “The golf course lends itself to a bunch of birdies. If you execute your golf shots and roll in a couple of putts you can certainly post a score.
“It’s just a matter of really taking advantage of the par-fives and a couple of the driveable par-fours and at the end of the day just being one shot better than the next guy.
“It’s just going to be a matter of executing plans and trying to get over the line.”