Justin Harding took advantage of his early tee time on Thursday in the opening round of the 149th Open Championship at Royal St George’s in Sandwich, Kent as he carded a three-under-par 67.
The 35-year-old South African who has won seven times on the Sunshine Tour, twice on the European Tour and twice on the Asian Tour, is playing in his third Open Championship. He missed the cut in 2013 and shared 41st in 2019, and was pleased to have got going in the second group out.
“I got the good tee-time,” he said. “One of the Opens I played in the past, I had a 3.30pm tee-time, and it felt like it took forever to get started, so I was pleased to get the early on and get cracking.”
He got cracking well, with five consecutive pars, before he picked up a birdie on the sixth. But he made his only mistake of the day with a double-bogey seven on the par-five seventh to slip to one-over for his round. He quickly rectified his mistake with a birdie on eight, before making five consecutive pars again. He picked up three shots in his final five holes.
“I played well,” he said. “I managed my game nicely. I only hit one really poor tee shot on the seventh, where it kind of bit me. But I’m really quite pleased with the way I finished the round.
“It’s really a tough test. There were some really tricky pins out there. I felt that the wind was freshening up on the back nine as well. The course is only going to get firmer and faster. I should just be a good test throughout the week. You can’t be hitting it all over the place here. It is one of those courses that will reward good golf and punish bad golf.”