Justin Harding narrowly missed out on a third European Tour title on Sunday when he lost on the first play-off hole to Spain’s Nacho Elvira in the European Tour’s Cazoo Open supported by Gareth Bale at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wales.
Harding missed his par putt on the par-five 18th after pushing his birdie attempt five feet past the hole, which meant that Elvira’s agony at missing his birdie putt turned to joy as he won his first European Tour title in his 195th start.
Harding had started the day six shots adrift of the Spaniard, who had a checkered opening nine with three birdies, three pars and three bogeys. He dropped a further shot when he bogeyed the 12th, but birdies on 15 and 17 took him to the top of the leaderboard heading up 18. He had two putts for the victory in regulation play, but contrived to miss a four-footer for par, and Harding was in the play-off.
He had got there with a bogey-free round with three birdies on each nine. He had a chance for birdie on 18 in regulation, but just missed that – in full view of Elvira who was waiting on the fairway to play his third into the green.
While Elvira was celebrating his maiden European Tour win, Harding was regretting those two misses on the 18th. But he will be well pleased with his rise in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai rankings to 20th and he will move closer to the world’s top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking from his current 114th.
South Africa had two other players inside the top 10, with Bryce Easton closing with a three-under 68 for a share of eighth, and Jacques Kruyswijk’s one-under 70 took him to a share of 10th.