11th March 2019 | Asian Tour
Big win for Harding in Qatar, as Prom and Khan earn victories in their local circuits
March 11: Justin Harding of South Africa closed with a six-under-par 66 to win his maiden European Tour title by two shots at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters on Sunday.
The 33-year-old Harding had a three-shot deficit going into the final round, but he closed the gap early in the day on the overnight leader, England’s Oliver Wilson, by sinking three birdies in his opening four holes at the Doha Golf Club.
Even though he dropped shots on the sixth and seventh, Harding recovered brilliantly by responding with birdies on the 10th and 12th. With the wind in his sails, two-time Asian Tour winner birdied three out of his last four holes before signing for a 13-under-par 275 total.
At that juncture, Harding took over the clubhouse lead from Korean Jinho Choi, who set the early target of 11-under-par after carding the day’s best score of 64. The South African then had to endure a long, agonising wait, with 15 golfers still yet to finish their rounds.
An hour later, he was conferred the winner. He joins Ernie Els, Darren Fichardt, Retief Goosen and Branden Grace as South African winners of the Mother of Pearl trophy.
“I didn’t quite think it was enough, I thought there might be a play-off but I’m happy to get over the line eventually. I’ve been knocking on the door a little recently. It’s rewarding seeing the hard graft and change in mindset, seeing what’s involved and what’s going on. I’m really happy,” he said.
Harding has been in supreme form since winning the Indonesia Open and Royal Cup in quick succession last year. He went on to secure four more top-10 finishes to emerge third on the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings.
He carried his momentum to 2019, evident from his results on the European Tour. His victory in Qatar earned him 24 Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points, which elevated him from 74th to 52nd.
With WGC-Dell Technologies Matchplay spots reserved for the top-64 available golfers on the OWGR as of March 18, Harding will be packing his bags for Austin, Texas, United States in a few weeks’ time.
Prom wins second Singha Thailand Masters title
Thailand’s Prom Meesawat also enjoyed a celebratory weekend, as he shot an even-par 72 to win the Singha Thailand Masters by one shot on Sunday.
Prom started the day with a one-shot lead and even though he could not get his round going, trading five birdies against five bogeys, the Big Dolphin hung on for the victory at the All Thailand Tour event after signing for a 13-under 276 at the Santiburi Country Club.
The 34-year-old Prom credited his win to World Cup teammate and friend, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who helped him improve his game during the off-season.
Said Prom: “We practised together and he gave me good tactics and also equipment before leaving for the United States. I want to thank him for that.
“This is a big event and everyone wants to play here. I had good memories of playing here and so, winning here again is very special.”
Prom, a three-time Asian Tour winner, earned seven OWGR points, and he has risen more than a hundred places from 407 to 301 on the world rankings.
Khan continues his resurgence with a win at the City Bank American Express Chittagong Open
India’s Rashid Khan was miles ahead of the field as he shot a final-day nine-under-par 63 for a seven-shot, wire-to-wire victory at the City Bank American Express Chittagong Open.
His winning total of 24-under-par 264 is a new record for the lowest-ever winning score achieved at Bangladesh’s Bhatiary Golf and Country Club.
Khan, who had a two-shot cushion at the start of the day, tightened his grip on the lead after shooting four birdies on the front nine. His lead was virtually unassailable after sinking three consecutive birdies on the 10th, 11th and 12th.
His victory in Bangladesh was his 11th professional win and his second one in four months.
In December last year, Khan ended his two-year title drought by emerging victorious at the CG Open 2018, a tournament on the PGTI.
Said that two-time Asian Tour winner: “The putts rolled in for me today and I also capitalised on the par-fives. My week can be summed up by the fact that I dropped only one bogey in the whole tournament. It’s great to win two events in quick succession. I feel my confidence and game are back on track.”
Khan earned five OWGR points, which pushed him up from 867 to 581 on the world rankings.