Justin Harding, the defending champion at this weekÂs Lombard Insurance Classic, shot a second-round 64 at Royal Swazi Golf Club to finish four strokes clear of the morning field on Saturday.
ÂComing back and defending is nice Â I have a good few memories. All in all it was a good, solid day. I was happy with todayÂs performance, and it puts me there or thereabouts,Â he said.
The 26-year-old blazed through the back nine in 31 strokes en route to a 12-under-par tally, which put him four shots clear of Jake Roos and Mark Murless ahead of a cut to 50 and ties.
ÂIt was a very good day,Â said Harding. ÂIn general these two days have been pretty good. I did a bit of work over the weekend, and changed my focus, because I was putting too much pressure on myself for results.Â
Everything went right for the Stellenbosch Golf Club professional, but the highlight of his day definitely came at the 12th.
ÂI had a nice little stretch. I eagled 12 after getting a bounce off a tree, which was friendly, and capitalized on it. I hit a driver and took too tight a line. It caught the tree and just bounced back onto the fairway, and after that I had a 50-degree wedge in from about 112 yards. I hit it too about eight foot and then sunk the putt,Â he said.
Harding, a two-time winner on the Sunshine Tour, clearly enjoys the course and the tournament Â he has broken par during every round over the last two years at this event.
ÂThis course sets up for a few low rounds,Â he said. ÂI think most of the scoring is done in the morning, because the wind picks up later in the day and it gets a bit tricky.
ÂI think this event is nice because itÂs in the middle of the year. You can forget about whatÂs happened in the past and take a bit of confidence into the future. I seem to be getting my game right, which is nice.Â
And the future was definitely on his mind Â Harding felt that a good result here was very important.
ÂI was in the last group at Simola, and although things didnÂt quite work out, at least IÂm putting myself in contention again. IÂm looking to go to European Tour School, so itÂs all a work in progress Â one step at a time,Â he said.
The defending champion was pleased with his buildup to the final round and felt ready to take on Royal Swazi come Sunday. ÂAt the end of the day it was two solid rounds, I just made more putts today than I did yesterday. I feel quite good Â ItÂs nice to be back up there, and itÂs good to be defending. IÂm happy and IÂm looking forward to tomorrow,Â he said.