With a solid showing at the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush, Neil Tappin asks who is Justin Harding?

For many golf fans the name Justin Harding is unfamiliar but the South African has moved serenely into contention at the 2019 Open Championship. His strong pedigree in the game would suggest he is capable of a shock here at Portrush but Who is Justin Harding?

Since turning professional in 2010 (off a handicap of plus 6), the 33 year-old from Cape Town has become a prolific winner around the world. His grounding within the paid ranks came on the Sunshine Tour where he won seven events between 2010 and 2018.

He then played on the Asian Tour and quickly racked up two more wins in Indonesia and Thailand, also both in 2018.

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With the second of these wins he moved inside the world’s top 100.

The South African is clearly not afraid of winning because in March of this year he captured the Qatar Masters on the European Tour. He beat a collection of nine players by two shots to claim the 259,000 euro winner’s cheque. With that win, Harding progressed to 52nd in the world and gained an invaluable invite to the Masters.

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Indeed, it was at Augusta National in April that Harding came into view for the first time for many golf fans who then began to ask ‘who is Justin Harding?’. The 33 year-old finished tied for 12th and for a period actually led the event.

Since that impressive Augusta debut, Harding’s form has somewhat fallen away. Indeed, heading into this year’s Open Championship, he had missed three cuts in a row at the US Open, Irish Open and Scottish Open. Something however has clearly clicked however and with his second round 65, his very best form seemed to return.

If you are looking for an outsider to back at Royal Portrush, Harding, who at the end of 2017 was ranked 712th in the world, might be a good option.