He won the Indo Zambia Bank Zambia Open last year, and came second in the Lombard Insurance Classic in Swaziland, but Justin Harding had a forgettable 2012 by his own standards.
And 2013 didnÂt start too promisingly either Â until his opening seven-under-par opening round on the Montagu course at Fancourt in the Dimension Data Pro-Am.
It was a stark contrast to his first-round 83 in 2012 in the same tournament: ÂI didnÂt start well last year, so IÂve improved vastly in a span of 12 months,Â he said.
His score gave him a share of the first round lead in the R3.75-million event, and it puts him in position to challenge for what would be the biggest title of his career which saw the first of his three Sunshine Tour titles come in 2010: ÂI hit it well from tee to green and made some putts when I needed to. All in all, it was probably one of the better rounds IÂve played in a long time,Â he said.
If he is to turn around the average start he has had in 2013 Â missed cuts in the Telkom PGA Pro-Am and the Africa Open, and a share of 38th in the Joburg Open Â the Dimension Data Pro-Am is a good place to start. And he will have the ÂeasyÂ Outeniqua layout in the second round to consolidate his good start on Montagu.
ÂNo golf course is very easy. YouÂve still got to walk around and hit a lot of good shots and make some putts,Â he said. ÂI think whatÂs key around there is actually holing putts. Everyone gets the same number of chances Â itÂs taking advantage of those chances, thatÂs all. But youÂve still got to wake up in the morning and hit the good shots.Â
But he was cautious in assessing his chances of lifting the title. ÂObviously, this opening round sets me up pretty well for the rest of the tournament, but there are still three rounds to go over two different golf courses, so IÂve just got to plod along, work my way up and see if I can get into a good position come Sunday Â and see if I can maybe take home the trophy.Â