European Tour

Harding happy to get over the line in Qatar

Justin Harding (Getty Images)
Justin Harding (Getty Images)

Cape Town - South Africa's Justin Harding is relieved to finally get over the line after he won his maiden European Tour title this past weekend.

Harding clinched the Qatar Masters title at the Doha Golf Club which he won by two strokes on Sunday.

The 33-year-old hit five birdies on the back nine to sign a final round of six-under 66 and finish on 13-under for the tournament.

"It's fantastic. It's still sinking in. 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," Harding told the media following his win.

"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."

With 15 competitors still to finish their rounds, Harding faced an anxious wait of almost an hour, but none of them were able to match him, as he finished ahead of a European Tour-record nine golfers who shared second place on 11-under.

"I had to stay patient. I got off to a good start, made a couple of birdies and lost my head around the turn. My caddie Alan said we're still in it and to make a couple on the back. I managed to keep myself in it and made a couple. I birdied 17 and 18, which was huge. I didn't think 13 was clear, I thought there would be a play-off with how scores were looking on the back nine, but I'm happy to get over the line," said Harding.

The victory is his fifth in nine months - having gone back-to-back on the Sunshine Tour in May last year and repeated the feat on the Asian Tour in July.

Harding joins Ernie Els, Darren Fichardt, Retief Goosen and Branden Grace as South African winners of the Mother of Pearl trophy.

He banked a winner's cheque of €259 669 (R4.2 million) and moved to fifth on the European Tour's Race of Dubai Rankings.

The win also saw Harding leap up the World Golf Rankings - moving up 22 places to sit at 52nd.

Harding will now have the opportunity to qualify for the Masters if he finishes in the Top 50 of the World Golf Rankings during the week prior to the year's first Major at Augusta.

Next up, Harding will be looking to continue his good form at this week's Kenya Open at the Karen Country Club.

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