Justin Harding joined a prestigious list of former champions when he lifted the famous Mother of Pearl Trophy last season at the Qatar Masters.
The South African, now ranked 99th in the world, birdied his final two holes to set the clubhouse target at 13 under par during a dramatic final day at Doha GC, ultimately finishing two strokes clear of a group of nine players that tied for second place.
‘It was cool to have finally crossed the line and got a W,’ Harding said as he reflected on last year’s victory.
‘It is just a matter of trying to feed on the same sort of memories this week and see if we can defend it.’
He won’t have the defending champion’s advantage of returning to the same course, but the 34-year-old is relishing the opportunity.
‘It’s a nice little challenge,’ he said.
‘It means everyone is pretty much in the same boat. It’s not like you’re playing against a bunch of guys that have a world of good memories and good things to bring out on their play.’
The 2020 Qatar Masters has moved across the Qatari capital from Doha Golf Club for the first time in its 23-year history to Education City Golf Club.
Designed by two-time Masters Champion Jose Maria Olazábal, the venue comprises 33 holes split into three courses; 18 holes, nine holes and six holes.
The Championship Course, which plays 7,307 yards, opened in 2018 and is set up to be a terrific test for the players with sizeable bunkers and green-side water hazards on more than half of the holes.
Harding believes wind will be a big factor this week.
‘It’s a good golf course, I’ve played nine holes and I think the wind’s going to blow,’ said Harding. ‘It’s going to make it challenging for scoring.’
The facility at Education City includes a state-of-the-art learning and practice facility housed in the Centre of Excellence and is at the heart of Qatar’s vision to grow the game in the Middle Eastern country.
The golf club also sits in the noticeable shadow of Education City Stadium, one of the host venues of the 2022 Fifa World Cup.
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