Harding continues his Kenyan hot streak

From the European Tour

Justin Harding picked up exactly where he left off at Karen Country Club as the South African carded a seven under par 64 to move into a share of the first round lead at the Kenya Savannah Classic, just two days after his triumph at the Magical Kenya Open.

The 34-year-old claimed his second European Tour title in Nairobi on Sunday, breaking the lowest winning score record in Kenya’s historic national open with a 21-under-par total, and he equalled his lowest round of last week with an opening 64 in the second of the back-to-back tournaments at the same venue.

Harding has already won back-to-back events in his career, on the Sunshine Tour in 2018, and he will be looking to become the first player to win consecutive European Tour events since Justin Rose won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open in 2017.

“It’s quite different, to be fair,” said Harding about playing competitively just two days after lifting a trophy. “We are playing the same golf course so my strategy stays the same – front foot forward and see if we can keep doing what we were doing last week. I played pretty good again, solid.

“I played here in 2019 as well. Then I wasn’t able, with technology, to knock it on the par-fours. It’s changed a little bit. The 10th I play back and leave myself a wedge in my hand, I don’t like the draw off the tee, especially with the wind blowing off the left. Then a couple of the others set up nicely. On 15 I learned my lesson on Friday afternoon, I hit one in the bush and I’ve hit three-wood ever since. It’s the type of golf course where you don’t have to birdie every hole, but if you execute your plans you have a hell of a lot of birdie chances – so play the tough holes properly.

“It’s always easy when you’re playing well. Don’t ask me where it came from. I’m playing solid and finally rolling a couple of putts in. Ultimately just keeping it in play and trying to keep the bogeys off the card – there was a silly one on 16 but was happy enough to make a birdie on 17.”

Harding shared the lead with Alejandro Canizares of Spain, Joost Luiten of the Netherlands and Clement Sordet of France.

They had a one-stroke edge over a big group of nine players on six-under, including Daniel van Tonder, Darren Fichardt and Mathiam Keyser, who is playing on his third tournament since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Dean Burmester and Jayden Schaper were on two-under, JC Ritchie, Jacques Kruyswijk and George Coetzee on one-under, Louis de Jager on level-par, Garrick Higgo and Wilco Nienaber on one-over, Thriston Lawrence two-over, Zander Lombard on four-over, and Haydn Porteous on five-over.

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