Justin Harding is looking to defend his title at the Zambia Sugar Open this week, where 140 professionals will battle it out at Lusaka Golf Club from Thursday.
“It’s a privilege to defend any national open, and this tournament is huge for the Zambian Golf Union. It’s one of our bigger events and I’m definitely going to try to make it two in a row," he said.
This week marks Harding’s third title defence, and it may prove to be third time lucky as he hunts for the lion’s share of the R1,2-million on offer.
“It’s a good feeling to be defending champion this week and winning last year was really superb. I have been playing nicely recently and I’m looking forward to putting a few birdies together and seeing if I can’t lift the trophy again,” he beamed.
In his three years on tour, Harding has clocked up 831 birdies. He’ll need to keep that figure rising in order to have a crack at victory in Zambia. With seven top-10s and a good record at Lusaka Golf Club, he’s a solid bet for this week.
“I need to start peaking come Saturday and Sunday, but the game is feeling good at the moment. If you get on a roll you can make some birdies at this track, but the focus is to get yourself into the mix on Sunday,” he explained.
There are plenty of past champions looking for success this week, not least of whom is Adilson Da Silva, who won the 2010 Zambia Open at Ndola Golf Club.
The top-ranked Brazilian has 10 Sunshine Tour wins and 47 top-10s to his name, which indicate the potency of his golf. This year alone he has made it to 27th on the Sunshine Tour and 21st on the Asian Tour Order of Merits.
“I had a good start of the year and I’ve been very confident about my game. My putting has been letting me down, but these greens look similar to what we play in Asia, so it should be a good one for me,” he stated.
Also in action this week is 2011 Zambia Open winner Doug McGuigan, who overcame Jean Hugo in a playoff at Nchanga Golf Club. He’s joined by 2008 champion Tyrone Ferreira, who won at Chainama Hills Golf Club five years ago.
Leading the local charge is Madalitso Muthiya, who made 17 birdies at Lusaka Golf Club last year and finished the tournament tied for 28th on a level-par total.