South Africa’s Justin Harding was upbeat about his display on Saturday as he kept himself in line for a run at the Green Jacket, writes WADE PRETORIUS.
Only once has a debutant gone on to beat the field and win the year’s first Major – Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 – but with 18 to play, there is belief in the Harding camp.
Moving day was a rollercoaster for the field with the 33-year-old no exception. From early birdies to back to back bogeys and the grinding through the back nine, it was a day to exercise caution and control. It ultimately ended on a sweet note with a near 50-footer on the 17th getting him to within five of the lead.
‘It was a difficult day. I got off to a great start; actually, I thought it was me from that point onwards but it didn’t really turn out to be the case, ‘ said Harding.
‘It’s just a matter of fine margins around here. I think I probably hit it just about one inch too short on 4, which pretty much more than likely would have been a tap in par and maybe I don’t bogey 5.’
Harding is confident that he will continue to challenge with his putter behaving so far.
‘Look, I’ve been putting good, I felt like I’ve had good speed on the greens and I’ve read them pretty well, so it’s just a matter of trying to give yourself as many chances as you can.
‘Once I birdied 12 and 13 again I kind of figured it might just be the same sort of day as yesterday (four birdies in a row from 12-15) but I threw it away with a bad second shot into 14 and got lucky to come out of there with a bogey. The birdie on 17 was an absolute bonus and I managed to par 18. Which is good.’
Overall, assessing his first moving day at Augusta National surrounded by some of the world’s best Harding was pleased with his performance.
‘Each day is kind of its own little puzzle, today was a difficult one to solve, I thought that I was quite pleased shooting 70.’
Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
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