Harding heads the field in first round of Tshwane Open | SASCOC - SASCOC
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Harding heads the field in first round of Tshwane Open

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 11: Justin Harding during day 1 of the 2016 Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club on February 11, 2016 in Pretoria, South Africa. EDITOR'S NOTE: For free editorial use. Not available for sale. No commercial usage. (Photo by Petri Oeschger/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images)

Justin Harding chipped in for birdie on his final hole of the opening round of the Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club on Thursday for a seven-under-par 63 and a one-stroke lead in the tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and The European Tour.
He pushed his approach to the 18th a little right, and from a difficult lie, with very little green to work with, and the green sloping away from him, his chip rattled the flagstick and dropped in the hole, giving him that single-shot edge over Anthony Michael.
‘I’ve been struggling the last couple of events so it’s a confidence boost, absolutely,’ he said. ‘I felt like I hit it quite nicely, but I was quite jammy on the last when I chipped in from a position that was not very good.’
He had a steady start, making two pars on his opening two holes, before his first birdie of the day came on the third. But he followed that with a bogey on four. It was to be the last blemish on his round, as two more birdies came on the front nine, and five on the back which saw him race home in 30. ‘Maybe that 30 was significant,’ he laughed afterwards, a reference to his 30th birthday which he celebrated on Tuesday.
Harding was one of those players who has had to make the transition from the long putter to the shorter, unanchored putter, and the change appeared to have hampered the rest of his game too. ‘Swing-wise it’s always been there or thereabouts,’ he said. ‘I’ve been a bit wonky in terms of posture so it’s just about getting a little bit more comfortable standing over the ball and giving myself an opportunity to make better swings and attack some flags. The short putter is moving in the right direction. I wouldn’t say it’s quite there yet but it’s definitely getting better week by week so we’ll see what happens.’
Michael missed a two-footer for birdie on the 18th in a round that was otherwise characterised by really good putting. ‘The ball bobbled a little as I putted it,’ said Michael, ‘but for the rest, the greens were great.
‘And I hit a lot of irons off the tees. I’m hitting my irons really well, so I am confident enough to hit a five or six-iron into these greens. In the end, I only missed two greens all day,’ he added.
In third place, qualifier Theunis Spangenberg was off early and he carded a five-under-par 65 to finish in third after the opening round, one ahead of Jaco van Zyl, who returned to tournament play after taking a three-week break after the Joburg Open.
Defending champion George Coetzee made a solid start with his two-under-par 68 for a share of sixth, a position he shared with 10 other players, including Shaun Norris who won last week’s Myanmar Open on the Asian Tour.
For Harding, it was a welcome return to the form which has brought him four Sunshine Tour titles. ‘I haven’t really been up here for a while in one of these events, so it’s a good feeling,’ he said. ‘It’s certainly nice to be here. I’m just going to see if I can maybe keep it going. I feel as though I’m hitting it nicely enough.’

Scores
63 – Justin Harding (RSA)
64 – Anthony Michael (RSA)
65 – Theunis Spangenberg (RSA)
66 – Jaco Van Zyl (RSA)
67 – Merrick Bremner (RSA)
68 – Andrew McArthur (SCO), Shaun Norris (RSA), Robert Dinwiddie (ENG), George Coetzee (RSA), Scott Henry (SCO),Ulrich van den Berg (RSA), Jamie McLeary (SCO), Dylan Frittelli (RSA), Daniel Im (USA), Richard Sterne (RSA), Nino Bertasio (ITA)
69 – Doug McGuigan (SCO), Jason Knutzon (USA), Jason Scrivener (AUS), Daan Huizing (NED), Jean-Paul Strydom (RSA),Jack Senior (ENG)
70 – Gary King (ENG), Mark Murless (RSA), Toby Tree (ENG), Jack Harrison (ENG), Ben Evans (ENG), Matt Ford (ENG),Chris Paisley (ENG), Haydn Porteous (RSA), Michael Jonzon (SWE), Russel Franz (RSA), Steven Jeppesen (SWE),Dean Burmester (RSA), Fabrizio Zanotti (PAR), David Law (SCO), Tjaart van der Walt (RSA)
71 – Bradley Neil (SCO), Tom Lewis (ENG), Jaco Ahlers (RSA), Pablo Martin Benavides (ESP), Francesco Laporta (ITA),James Robinson (ENG), Charl Schwartzel (RSA), Brandon Stone (RSA), David Horsey (ENG), Matthew Nixon (ENG),Garth Mulroy (RSA), Andrew Curlewis (RSA), JC Ritchie (RSA), Divan van den Heever (RSA), Bernd Ritthammer (GER),Michiel Bothma (RSA), Marco Crespi (ITA), Justin Walters (RSA), Hennie Otto (RSA), Jens Dantorp (SWE), Jean Hugo (RSA),Gary Boyd (ENG), Daniel Gavins (ENG), Chris Hanson (ENG), Bobby Wyatt (USA), Jose-Filipe Lima (POR)
72 – Dimi Papadatos (AUS), Hugues Joannes (BEL), Rourke van der Spuy (RSA), Peter Karmis (RSA), Stuart Manley (WAL),Matthew Baldwin (ENG), Michael Hollick (RSA), Jacques Blaauw (RSA), Sebastian Soderberg (SWE), Vaughn Groenewald (RSA),Espen Kofstad (NOR), Callum Mowat (RSA), Zander Lombard (RSA), Darren Fichardt (RSA), Felipe Aguilar (CHL),Jared Harvey (RSA), Bryandrew Roelofsz (RSA)
73 – Tyrone Mordt (RSA), Adilson Da Silva (BRA), Daniel Gaunt (AUS), Jeff Winther (DEN), Madalitso Muthiya (ZAM),Clement Berardo (FRA), Christiaan Basson (RSA), Titch Moore (RSA), Ryan Evans (ENG), Mark Williams (ZIM),Ockie Strydom (RSA), Jacques Kruyswijk (RSA), Lincoln Tighe (AUS), Lindani Ndwandwe (RSA), Seve Benson (ENG),Lasse Jensen(DEN), Tom Murray (ENG), Matthew Southgate (ENG), Wallie Coetsee (RSA), Mark Foster (ENG), Sam Walker (ENG),Kevin Phelan (IRL)
74 – Max Orrin (ENG), Lukas Nemecz (AUT), Neil Schietekat (RSA), Laurie Canter (ENG), Rhys Davies (WAL),Christiaan Bezuidenhout (RSA), Marcus Kinhult (SWE), Chris Swanepoel (RSA), Borja Virto Astudillo (ESP), Jake Roos (RSA),Oliver Fisher (ENG), Trevor Fisher Jnr (RSA), Louis de Jager (RSA), Adrian Otaegui (ESP), Richard McEvoy (ENG),Tyrone Ferreira (RSA), Toto Thimba (Jnr), Heinrich Bruiners (RSA), Ross McGowan (ENG), Ben Eccles (AUS),Dwayne Basson (RSA)
75 – Edoardo Molinari (ITA), Brett Rumford (AUS), Keith Horne (RSA), Colin Nel (RSA), Lyle Rowe (RSA), Kevin Stone (RSA),Mikael Lundberg (SWE), Oliver Bekker (RSA), David Drysdale (SCO), Alex Haindl (RSA), Stephen Ferreira (POR)
76 – Derick Petersen (RSA), PH McIntyre (RSA), Thomas Linard (FRA), Jens Fahrbring (SWE), Nicolo Ravano (ITA ),Omar Sandys (RSA), Ruan de Smidt (RSA), Ruaidhri McGee (IRL), Andrew Georgiou (CYP), Peter Lawrie (IRL), Jason Diab (RSA),Rhys West (RSA)
77 – Jbe’ Kruger (RSA), Teboho Sefatsa (RSA), Leorin Pillay (RSA)
78 – David Dixon (ENG), Clement Sordet (FRA), Danie van Tonder (RSA)
79 – CJ du Plessis (RSA), John Hahn (USA)
80 – Ryan Tipping (RSA)
RTD – James Busby (ENG)


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