Local boy Harding leads Cape Town Open

2015 Lion of Africa Cape Town Open: Day 2Justin Harding made two eagles on the back nine at Royal Cape Golf Club on Friday to rise into a share of the lead at halfway mark of the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open.

“I didn’t make a birdie, but I made a couple of eagles. It’s not often I break 70 without a birdie on the card, so that was fun. I like this golf course and I’ve played well here in the past – both in amateur days and in the last couple of Cape Town Opens – so I’m comfortable out here,” he said.

The Stellenbosch local, who lives a short drive from the course, wrapped up 36 holes in nine-under-par to join fellow Capetonians Erik van Rooyen and Andrew Georgiou at the top of the pile.

“I suppose it’s an advantage to come here,” said Harding. “We don’t play that much tournament golf down here in the Western Cape, which is unfortunate. It’s nice staying at home and in the evenings I can talk a bit of nonsense with my parents. There were a couple of guys that came out today, which made it that much nicer.”

The jovial big hitter worked his way around Royal Cape in 69 on Friday and made just one bogey in spite of the brooding weather.

“I haven’t played this wind on this golf course, not since I can remember. A lot of it is cross breeze and the fairways are quite tight, so I found it difficult to put the ball in play.

“The scores are out there, but the weather this afternoon made it difficult to get a rhythm going. That said, I’m quite happy with where I am sitting at the moment,” he said.

The 29-year-old has four Sunshine Tour wins under his belt and had his sights set on a fifth title at this week’s R1,2-million tournament.

“You try to put yourself in position and give yourself a chance on the weekend. For us at the top it’s about grinding it out and seeing if we can make some birdies and set ourselves up for Sunday. If the wind switches to a south-easter then anything can happen, so it’s really going to come down to the last nine holes on Sunday,” he said.

Van Rooyen felt the brunt of the breeze on his second loop, yet managed to reach the clubhouse in a share of the lead on nine-under.

“I knew this course would show her teeth at some stage and she did that today. I think the pins were a bit tougher today and the conditions got tricky. It’s a four-day event and to still go under par like I did today is fantastic, so I’m quite excited for this weekend,” he said.

Georgiou carded a course record 62 during the first round, but slipped back on Friday and settled for a share of the lead ahead of a cut to the leading 50 players and those tied on the number.

“I didn’t play great today, but you’ve got to keep yourself in check. Still at the top of the leaderboard and I want to keep going,” he said.

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