21st May 2018 | Sunshine Tour
Harding’s meteoric rise on the OWGR
Justin 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.