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Frittelli out to boost US Open chances at WentworthUnlike last year when Dylan Frittelli made his BMW PGA Championship debut with the aim of consolidating his spot in the top 100 in the official world golf ranking, this year his objective is loftier and he will want a solid showing at Wentworth this week. When the tournament at Wentworth came around last year, Frittelli was ranked 84th in the world, and his goals would have included moving up those rankings to secure invitations to some of the biggest events of the year such as the World Golf Championships tournaments. Things have changed, however, for Frittelli since his breakthrough victory in the European Tour’s Lyoness Open in Austria. Apart from the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open win, Frittelli has kept his rise up the rankings on the go and is lying 57th in the world this week ahead of the trip to Surrey. Prospects of heading off to Shinnecock Hills for this year’s US Open just got real. This, of course, will depend on how he and others play in Wentworth. But, Frittelli is meticulous and he would have already thought out a plan and a process. And, having had the taste of the majors already, and having kept his spot within the top 60 in the world up to this point, a push for a spot in the field of the US Open will be his immediate goal. Those players inside the top 60 at the start of next week gain exemption to the year’s second major. Also making positive movements on the world ranking this week was Justin Harding who moved up from 186 last week to 157, thanks to his two top-10 finishes and the wins at the Investec Royal Swazi Open and the Lombard Insurance Classic eSwatini. Following his third-place finish at the AT&T Championship, Branden Grace moved up three spaces, from 36th to 33rd. Also, in that top 60 in the world currently is Louis Oosthuizen who dropped one spot to 36th while Charl Schwartzel maintained his 43rd position in the world. Despite dropping three spots below the 94th spot he occupied last week, George Coetzee is still in the top 100 but a trip to the US Open is highly unlikely.  
A fitting present for Grace at Trinity ForestBranden Grace gave himself a proper 30th birthday present when he carded a final round nine-under-par 62 in the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship at Trinity Forest Golf Club which saw him finish in a share of third on Sunday. “A good birthday present,” said Grace about his final round. “Things didn't look too good at the start of the day, people playing out there and things like that. Couple hours later it was good.” The final round of the 2016 RBC Heritage champion, which boasted eight birdies and an eagle, was spoilt by the bogey he made on the par-four 13th. “It was good. Obviously, all pretty much started off with the bunker shot, birdie on the 1st. Otherwise, you're looking at maybe making a good par off of that start. Then I just played along. Gave myself some good chances. But I hit a lot of shots good today which was nice. I never really had those big birdie putts, big momentum putts you had to make and things like that. The eagle there, the bunker shot hole-out, it was pretty special.” Grace said. The setup of the course – designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore – did not only need a solid game plan for Grace, but also a bit of luck. “A little bit of imagination, a little bit of luck here and there. You get more luck on the links golf course than maybe on a normal golf course. Breath of fresh air playing something different this week instead of the week-in, week out. It was fun.” He said. This event marked the final week for the PGA Tour players who are not otherwise exempt, to finish in the top 60 in the world ranking to be exempt for the U.S. Open in June, and the top 50 to be exempt for the British Open, a month later. Grace moved up to 33rd this week from 36th last week in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR). He is ranked 26th on the Race to Dubai behind fellow South Africans Dylan Frittelli who occupies 17th and Louis Oosthuizen at 21st.  
Harding’s meteoric rise on the OWGRJustin Harding’s dramatic Lombard Insurance Classic win last week – his second victory in as many weeks – served to show just how much a Sunshine Tour player can benefit on the Official World Golf Ranking playing just local tournaments. Harding didn’t only solidify his position atop the Order of Merit after five events in the new season, he also earned a significant movement on the world ranking for a completely locally-based player. While Harding’s win this week ensured a R240,000 gap between himself and Rourke van der Spuy who sits second behind him, it is his meteoric rise on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) which is impressive. After 23 events last season on home soil, Harding finished the year ranked 712th with eight missed cuts all year long. Fast forward five months and the man from Stellenbosch is 57 spots away from the much sought-after position inside the top 100 on the OWGR. While self-confidence is vital and a positive thought process a golfer’s friend, even an optimistic Harding could not have predicted this sort of climb. After the first event of the year, the BMW SA Open, he was ranked 716th. With the movement of other players, Harding would enter the season-opening Zanaco Masters lying 422nd and he missed the cut. A week later, after finishing in a share of fifth at the Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open, his stock began to rise again, catapulting him up 42 spots to position 380. A runner-up finish at the Mopani Redpath Zambia Open saw him move up five spots to 275th in the world. Following his victory in the Investec Royal Swazi Open a fortnight after the runner-up finish in Kitwe, Harding was well inside the top 200 players in the world and claiming the top spot on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit in the process. He went into last week ranked 186th and following that hard-earned play-off triumph against Jake Roos, his surge up those world rankings continued, as he jumped up 29 spaces to 157th this week. To put things into perspective, in five months, Harding has won twice, made two top-fives and missed one cut while moving up 559 spots from 716 when the year started to 157 today. That’s a solid feat for any payer who has played all his tournaments locally thus far.  
Harding holds off Roos in marathon play-offJustin Harding won his second Sunshine Tour title in two weeks when he pulled off a marathon six-hole play-off victory on Sunday in the Lombard Insurance Classic at Royal Swazi Spa Country Club. He made birdie two on the 18th after he and Jake Roos had done battle five previous times on that hole without being able to eke out a victory. That was after Roos had shot a nine-under-par 63 in regulation play to force the play-off with Harding who carded a six-under 66. “I’m exhausted,” said Harding after he had seen off the challenge of the man who won his first five Sunshine Tour titles in play-offs. “To be honest, all I was trying to do on that final hole was make birdie, like I do on all the par-threes on this course. In fact, I’m happy to make par on them, but this time, it wasn’t enough.” In the end, he hit a beautiful six-iron to within two feet on that final play-off hole to set up his birdie chance, while Roos was left of the green and had to use a fairway wood to try and cosy the ball up to the hole. In the event, Roos nearly holed that attempt. But, he didn’t, and Harding made the putt to add the Lombard Insurance Classic title to the Investec Royal Swazi Open he won last week on the same course. He lost to Roos in a play-off in 2012 after winning the title in 2011, and he lost last year to Oliver Bekker. “It’s good to get a play-off win under my belt,” said Harding. “But, at the start of the day, I was just hoping I wouldn’t get into a play-off.” He made bogey on his third hole, and, while all around him were going low, he spent most of his round trying to play catch-up. He eventually only joined Roos at the top of the leaderboard with a birdie on the 17th. Behind Roos, Jaco Ahlers fired a 64 to finish third. Colin Nel also carded a 64 for fourth position, which he shared with Alex Haindl who shot a 66. The victory consolidated Harding’s position at the top of the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, and vindicated a more thoughtful approach to his golf. Two victories in two weeks is stark testimony to that.  
Harding lines up shot at second Swazi titleJustin Harding fired an eight-under-par 64 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead ahead of the final round of the Lombard Insurance Classic being played at the Roya;l Swazi Spa Country Club. Harding made six birdies and an eagle to edge clear of first-round leader Combrinck Smit and put himself in a position to win his second tournament in two weeks on the same course after he won last week’s Investec Royal Swazi Open. The eagle was particularly satisfying. “I’ve been looking for the eagle for quite some time – at least six competitive rounds around here over the last couple of weeks,” he said. “It was a good couple of shots and I rolled the putt in.” It was a bogey-free round for Harding, while almost everyone within striking distance of him – barring Alex Haindl, who finished three shots behind him, and Jared Harvey, who carded an eight-under of his own to move to five shots off the pace – dropped shots. “I felt like I played nicely all day, and keeping the bogeys off the card is key,” said Harding. And keeping bogeys off the card has a lot to do with good putting. “My putting is just about confidence,” he said. “I’m walking onto the green having maybe two or three fewer things to think about. I’m walking on, picking my line and stroking it. If it goes in, it goes in and I’m giving myself a bunch of chances. Eventually, they all add up and lead to a good score.” There were good scores aplenty behind Harding, and it had a lot to do with a soaking drizzle which was present at the start, and came back later in the afternoon. “I don’t particularly like playing in the rain. Nobody does,” said Harding. “But the rain softened the course up and made it more scoreable. The ball is not really running off the fairways and you can attack a few more pins from the fairways.” Behind Harding and Smith, there was a group of three players in 11-under, three shots off the lead. They were Vaughn Groenewald, Jake Roos and Alex Haindl, all of whom have been threatening to win recently. “You’ll probably see the same sort of shoot-out tomorrow and I hope I can fend them off,” said Harding. “I would prefer a grind, but it’s a matter of making one less shot than the guys finishing ahead of me. It’s probably going to take a low one. I’ve shot 67 here twice when leading and have been pipped in a play-off both times.” “I’m going to see if I can keep the momentum all the way through.”  
Follett-Smith in second week of good Swazi formZimbabwean 24-year-old Ben Follett-Smith is enjoying his second week at Royal Swazi Spa Country Club as he carded five-under-par 67 for his opening round of Lombard Insurance Classic on Friday. Follett-Smith – who had to qualify to play the tournament – finished tied 46th last week on the same course for the Investec Royal Swazi Open after coming through the qualifier there too. “After yesterday’s round of 66 in the pre-qualifier, I have some confidence,” he said of his first round. “I played the whole week last week, and I have managed to adjust to the course. Actually, I started a bit iffy on my front nine – I started on the back nine – but then I managed to get it back together. I made birdies on 17 and 18 and then shot 32 on the back nine which kept me together,” he said. There’s something about the course he likes. “I hit the ball left-to-right,” he said. “I actually shape it quite a bit. I like the fact that I shape balls off the tee and you have to do that here, instead of having to hit straight tee shots. That’s where I’m benefiting here, and it rewards you when you hit a good drive. On one, you can hot the green, and two, you can fade a drive and it works. “And the greens are gettable. If you’re hitting the greens, they’re small so you can make some putts. So everything works very well, I think.” With the weather starting to change as the day progressed, he was happy to have managed to finish well. “I’m glad I went out early,” he said. “But 67 is good anyway. I am 11-under through two rounds. Personally, I am playing a four-round tournament. I had to qualify, so I am working on a four-round tournament and my best four-round score is 20-under. I am trying to beat that. I am playing against myself.” He plans to spend most of his time for the Sunshine Tour season in South Africa. “I live in Zimbabwe and now I just moved to South Africa for more of my time. Obviously, I have to go back and forth as I only have three months in South Africa on a Zimbabwe passport. And I might play a few ZPGA (Zimbabwe Professional Golfers' Association) tournaments just to keep my order of merit status there and I will probably stay in South Africa and play as many Sunshine Tour events as I can. He said. He missed the cuts at the Zanaco Masters, the Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open and the Mopani Redpath Zambia Open before the 46th at the Investec Royal Swazi Open last week. There seems to be a good finish looming for him now.  
Auto Draft 79Just like last week, Combrinck Smit took advantage of an eagle – a pair of them this time – as he fired a blemish-free nine-under-par 63 on Friday to take the first-round lead of the R1-million Lombard Insurance Classic at Royal Swazi Spa Country Club. Smit led the first round of last week’s tournament and he had a two-stroke edge over a group of three players on seven-under as he made a birdie and two eagles ahead of the turn, and four more birdies on his way home. Vaughn Groenewald, Colin Nel and Ulrich van den Berg made up the trailing trio. “Two eagles definitely made nine-under-par especially sweet,” he said. “I made a nice long putt for the first one on five, and the one on seven, I hit to about a foot-and-a-half. In my mind I was still thinking they were worth five points each, like last week’s tournament which was scored on Modified Stableford, but it was good to start off my first nine like that. “I was thinking about being bogey-free. I didn’t want to drop a shot. There were a couple of close shaves. I had a couple of good up-and-downs, especially on the last hole where I had about an eight-footer for par and I managed to make it. “These greens, if you get it going on the day, you can make quite a lot of putts. But you can go through some bad patches where you can hit a good putt and it just misses. But I’m hitting it well off the tee, my iron shots are good and my putter is working. So, all in all, I’m very happy.” For the trio in second, it was a solid start for players who are all in good form and seeking new Sunshine Tour victories. Groenewald last won in 2016 at Arabella in the Western Cape. “I putted nicely,” he said after holing a ‘monster’ on 18 for birdie. “I over-read one or two putts, but overall, it’s great.” Nel won even longer ago, back in 2014 at the Wild Coast. “I’d say a bit of everything was working well,” he said, “especially the iron-play and the putting. The last few weeks have been nice. I’ve been a bit more consistent and that’s been my goal for a while.” Van den Berg has to go even further back to 2013 when he won at Glendower for his last win. “I played very well today,” he said. “I putted solidly, and whenever I needed to make a par putt, I did it. There are a lot of birdie chances out here.” Behind that trio in second, there was a big group on six-under, consisting of Andre de Decker, Rhys West, Justin Harding, Martin Rohwer, Andre Nel and Lyle Rowe. Harding won on this course last week, and Rowe came close, so both bring form into the weekend. But Smit, too, was in great shape last week with his share of seventh. “I’m feeling a bit of momentum from last week,” he said. “I just had one round where I couldn’t get it going as much, but that happens. As we all know, there is still a lot of holes to be played, but I’m definitely feeling confident in my game, and I know I can play well over the weekend. “I am looking for a win now. I’m trying not to think about it but definitely feeling that I can do it. I’ll just keep playing and see how it turns out.”  
Sefatsa seeks return to winning waysTeboho Sefatsa is a player who has won on the Sunshine Tour, but he is battling to re-establish himself after he regained his playing privileges for the 2018=19 season by winning the Vusi Ngubeni Stroke Play event in March. The 2012 BMG Classic champion missed out on qualifying for a tournament for the second week in a row when he carded a three-over-par 75 in the qualifier for the Lombard Insurance Classic at Royal Swazi Spa Country Club on Thursday. “It is frustrating,” said Sefatsa, who also failed to qualify for Investec Royal Swazi Open on the course last week. “But at the end of the day qualifying is the way to get into the tournaments. So, whatever it takes to get yourself into the tournament, you have to do it. You have to qualify. It would be nice to be exempt, but you do what you need to do to get yourself exempt.” Sefatsa, who carded a solid final round of level-par 72 on the Big Easy Tour for a share of fifth at Modderfontein on Wednesday before driving to Swaziland, said it can prove to be a mountain to climb to bring the form displayed during one tournament to another. “It is difficult when you do not prepare. You can never go to an event and assume that just because you have played the course you can just come out and do or play well. You just still need to prepare properly. “I think I just did not prepare well enough. I drove in last night, slept and teed off. So, I was a bit faulty in preparation, but at the end of the day you are playing what you need to play. After this re-rank I can actually properly plan the next four or five events properly and be better off,” he said. Apart from failing to qualify twice in 10 days, the Gary Player Class of 2018 member has shown he is capable of producing some good results after managing to bounce back from missing the cut during the opening tournament of the season at the Zanaco Masters in Lusaka. He made the cut at the Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open and Mopani Redpath Zambia Open last month. The 34-year-old is determined to get back the game he displayed in 2012 when he won the BMG Classic title after finishing 10-under 206 for the 54 holes. Memories from back then are motivating him to keep pushing. “It is a constant reminder. It keeps me going. Obviously, I draw from that, the positive moment. Trying to think back what was it that I was doing better and how was I handling myself. “When I look at it, I want to compare myself to now and then. I am a much better ball-striker or much better player all together, but mentally I was not quite the same. We are all so concerned about the physically and forget that the mental controls everything else and that is key for me. I know mentally I am in a better place. I am looking forward to some good results this year. “That’s it. That is what we are working towards. The game to hold up, to be able to compete and to get results when you are not at your best. I think that is key in this game. You need to be able to pull out results when you are not quite putting it well or hitting it well. That is what the best players do. Everyone can play when everything is hunky-dory, but it’s different when you are not quite on,” he said. With all that, Sefatsa is happy to get his Sunshine Tour card back this year. “It is cool. Look, obviously, I have been around for quite a while,” he said. “2016 was not a great year for me. I was going through some issues. So, I just took some time out to sort them out. I needed to fight for a free mind so I can actually play this game. It actually showed at Vusi when I was not at my best, but I was free at mind and I was able to win.” Sefatsa believes his game is at the level he wants it to be. “I am happy with it,” he said. “I know I am swinging it good. I know I am playing it well. Sometimes it feels like I am fighting with the swing now and then and some things are not clicking, but I am able to put a score together. That is what I have been working hard at. Even if you know that even if you are not swinging it great, get it around the golf course and that is pretty much about it. When it clicks I can shoot some really low rounds, but what we do not want is to play yourself out of the tournament.”  
Rowe ready for another title tiltLyle Rowe is looking for more of the same in this week’s R1-million Lombard Insurance Classic over 54 holes at Royal Swazi Spa Country Club when he tees off as the tournament gets underway tomorrow. It took just one bad shot for Rowe to lose last week’s Sunshine Tour Investec Royal Swazi Open title to Justin Harding, but his game has been looking good enough for a win for some time. “I’ve been playing well,” said Rowe. “The results have been there or thereabouts, with a seventh and a 16th and a second, so I’ve definitely been playing well. I just need to finish it off. “It was just one bad shot. I was trying to hit it left on the par-three 18th and I just mishit it. I had to make sure I got it up the slope and didn’t leave it in the bunker or come back down the slope. I suppose pressure does strange things to people.” He hit his recover shot long, missed the long par putt, and also the return for bogey which would still have won him the tournament. But he’s not going to dwell on that too much. “Finishing second confirms you’re playing well and that a win is around the corner,” he said. “I need to block out that one bad shot. Obviously, I’m going to think about it for a while, but these things happen in sport.” With last week’s format – scoring was by Modified Stableford points – rewarding aggression, Rowe feels he is in pretty good shape to take on the course at Royal Swazi once again. “I’m hitting a lot of irons quite close,” he said. “Even last week, I didn’t have to make too many long birdie putts, and that made things a bit less stressful. On the par-fives, I’m giving myself quite a lot of eagle chances, and that’s key to scoring in golf – making at least birdies on the par-fives.” The format is back to stroke play, and that suits Rowe. “You have to work your way around the course,” he said. “You can’t just smash it and then find it and hit again. You ‘ve got to make sure you miss it in certain places. You’ve got to use three-woods and four-irons off tees and those kinds of things. You’ve got to plot your way around instead of just pulling the driver out wherever you are and smashing it.” He finds himself up against a raft of players who have rounded nicely into form at an early stage of the 2018-19 Sunshine Tour season. Harding is one of them. Alex Haindl and Oliver Bekker are two more, and they came third and sixth respectively last week on the same course. Veteran Hennie Otto has also looked impressive, and, but for a poor second round last week certainly would have finished better than seventh. The youngster Andre Nel also had a good week with his fifth-place finish. But two players will have to be watched particularly closely. Peter Karmis won the tournament in 2009, closing with a brilliant 59, and he finished in a share of seventh last week, rounding nicely into form. And Merrick Bremner has won the title three times, in 2008, 2013 and 2016. He clearly enjoys it. Rowe will have to block out all that noise if he is to win this week. “I’ll try and keep the same game plan, and keep that one double-bogey off the card,” he said. “Hopefully the next time the opportunity comes around, I can close the deal.”  
Lombard Insurance Classic: What’s whatThe Sunshine Tour keeps the tents standing at Royal Swazi Sun Country Club, but this week for the 12th edition of the Lombard Insurance Classic which tees off on Friday. The tournament boasts a purse of R1 million. It was first featured on the Sunshine Tour in 2007. The course was the home for Investec Royal Swazi Open. The tournament is expected to produce some fireworks as the list of players in the field includes five out of eight of the former winners.  The format: 54-hole stroke play. In the tournament, there is a 60-team pro-am better ball medal and fourball alliance with two scores to count  The field: There are 84 professionals and 60 amateurs in total. Full professional field here.  Defending champion: Oliver Bekker (19-under-par, won play-off from Justin Harding)  The course: The course is situated in the heart of the famed Ezulwini Valley, which is known as a place where tourism in Swaziland began. At only 6,166 metres in length, the par-72 layout opened in 1966. The first nine holes are flat, while the second and more scenic nine takes you on a trip through hills and dales, including the famous walk up ‘Thrombosis Hill’ from the 10th green to the 11th tee. It is here where Peter Karmis made headlines by his groundbreaking 59 shot for the final round of the tournament in 2009. That is the lowest score in the history of the Sunshine Tour. The course is itself an important fixture in Sunshine Tour history. It has hosted players of the calibre of John Daly, Ernie Els, Mark McNulty, John Bland, Dale Hayes and Fulton Allem.  Form Player: It took a double-bogey on his final hole which saw the on-form Lyle Rowe suffer a one-shot defeat giving the Investec Royal Swazi Open title to the eventual winner, Justin Harding, last week. Rowe, from Humewood Golf Club, started the 2018-18 season on a high note as he came seventh in the Zanaco Masters. He managed to bounce back after missing the cut at the Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open, and he finished 16th in the Mopani Redpath Zambia Open a week later. Rowe has produced solid results at the course which is home for the Lombard Insurance Classic and the Investec Royal Swazi Open over the last few years. He came 22nd in the Lombard Insurance Classic in the 2016-17 season, and 17th in the Investec Royal Swazi Open last year. And then there was the near-miss last week. He seems to be ready. Sentimental pick: Merrick Bremner is a three-time winner for the tournament, in 2008, 2013 and 2016. He would want to turn things around following finishing 50th last week in the Investec Royal Swazi Open. He started the 2018-19 season on a good note as he finished ninth in the Zanaco Masters last month. That was followed by missing the cut for the Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open and finishing 57th in the Mopani Redpath Zambia Open. Except for his only missed cut at the Royal Swazi Spa Country Club in recent years – for the Investec Royal Swazi Open in 2014 – Bremner has played well at the course. Most recently, he came sixth in the Investec Royal Swazi Open and 23rd in the Lombard Insurance Classic in the 2017-18 season.  The bolter: He might have failed to qualify for Investec Royal Swazi Open last week, but the results that Musiwalo Nethunzwi has achieved in the first three tournaments of the 2018-19 Sunshine Tour season show that he has got what it takes to produce good results this week at the Lombard Insurance Classic. The Gary Player Class of 2018 player comes to the tournament with his mood set right by the 30th place finish at the Zanaco Masters, 31st at the Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open and 39th in the Mopani Redpath Zambia Open. He will want to have a taste of playing the weekend of the tournament for the first time after two missed cuts in 2015 and 2017 and failing to qualify in 2013.  
Putting pleases Charl in strong Players' showingIn a week during which the golfing world kind of ignored Webb Simpson winning The Players' Championship by a country mile to watch Tiger Woods look as if he might just be ready to win again, Charl Schwartzel was another major champion who served notice that he was ready for the winner's circle. He finished in a tie for second in the Players' at 14-under-par with Xander Schauffele and Jimmy Walker, four shots behind Simpson for his third top-10 in three weeks on the PGA Tour. And, although he talked during the tournament about a rediscovered swing and about Louis Oosthuizen helping him relax into a tempo through the swing and on the course generally, it was his putting which left him as pleased as anything else and optimistic going forward. “My putting has always been really good,” he said. “I needed to trust it more, and now that I'm trusting it, trusting the lines, seems like the stroke is also smoothing, so I'm going to make some more putts.” He was pleased with his solid rounds of 66, 63, 68 and 73 which gave him a total of 270. “Yeah. I played great all four days. I played well, too, yesterday, just didn’t make a putt, where today – today I still had two three-putts, but I made the putts I needed to make, which is key. “Look, I’ve had my fair share of troubles on this golf course. I’ve skipped it willingly where I don’t like it at all, and particularly these sorts of holes. But this week, played a lot better, and I played the tough holes well, so that’s normally going to get you around this golf course. “I started playing well in New Orleans. It’s been feeling good for about a month, two months now. It just hasn’t sort of kicked in. But yeah, I think playing with Louis freed me up a bit, and I’ve got good feelings. You know, just started playing really nice. I feel like I’m playing the way I should play,” the 33-year-old added. Behind Schwartzel, Rory Sabbatini finished tied 30th on eight-under 280, Branden Grace finished tied 46th on five-under 283, Tyrone van Aswegen was two-under 286 and finished 66th, while Oosthuizen, who came second in the tournament last year, missed the cut. Eleswhere, in the European Tour’s Rocco Forte Open, Thomas Aiken and Jacques Kruyswijk shared 14th spot after they finished eight-under par 276. In 26th was Christiaan Bezuidenhout on five-under 279. Zander Lombard finished 34th with Justin Walters on four-under 280, Jbe’ Kruger and Haydn Porteous finished on three-under 281. Trevor Fisher Jnr came third on one-over-par 285.  
Auto Draft 78Justin Harding carded a bogey-free nine-under-par 63 on Saturday to pull off his sixth Sunshine Tour victory when he squeaked home in the Investec Royal Swazi Open by one point. It took a double-bogey by tournament leader Lyle Rowe on the last to let Harding through the door in a tournament decided by a Modified Stableford scoring system in which five points were awarded for an eagle, two for a birdie, none for a par, minus one for a bogey and minus three for a double or worse. “Bogey-free today was key,” said Harding. “I pride myself on thinking clearly out there. I’m a naturally aggressive player as everyone knows. Keeping bogeys off the card is important because they just kill momentum, and in my opinion, golf is all about momentum, and if you can hold it for as long as possible, then you can post the scores that you need to. I seem to be doing a better job of that lately, and the win is proof of that.” He made his first birdie in the final round on the second, and then he reeled off four in succession from the fifth to the eighth to put himself firmly in the frame for the win. Four more birdies on the homeward nine saw him to 47 points for the tournament, with Rowe playing in the group behind him and two points clear. The leader pushed his tee-shot on the par-three 18th and had to try and hit a recovery shot from the deep rough below the green close enough to salvage par – or, at worst just a bogey. He didn’t manage and made double. “I feel sorry for Lyle. Nobody wants to finish that way, especially when you’re leading,” said Harding. “I’ll have a beer with him later and we’ll talk some nonsense together. He’ll win again soon enough.” For Harding, the victory came as a reward for some great form at the start of 2018: He finished third in the Eye of Africa PGA Championship and the Tour Championship, and second in last month’s Mopani Redpath Open in Zambia. “I have been knocking on the door,” he said. “I have been playing well, and I’ve been reasonably frustrated because I have been there or thereabouts. I let it slip a little at the Tour Championships a couple of months ago, but I have been putting myself in a position to win more regularly than I have been in the past.” Behind Harding and Rowe, Alex Haindl and third-round leader shared third place with totals of 45 points, with Andre Nel fifth and Oliver Bekker sixth. Harding jumped to the top of the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit with his win, after four tournaments in the 2018-19 season completed.  

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