European Tour

Harding hoping to defend Qatar Masters title

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

Justin Harding hopes memories of his victory in Doha last year can fuel his challenge for more success at the Qatar Masters.

The South African lifted his maiden European Tour title in dramatic fashion at last year's event after some last day heroics saw him hold off a big chasing pack at Doha Golf Club.

He fired five birdies on the back nine - including at the 15th, 17th and 18th - to earn a two shot victory from a group of nine players who tied for second.

"It was a bad little 45 minute wait but nobody seemed to really post a score. I think there were nine guys tied for second so I was quite pleased to avoid a play-off," said Harding on Tuesday.

"It was cool to have finally crossed the line and got a W. It is just a matter of trying to feed on the same sort of memories this week and see if we can defend it."

The 34-year-old won't have the defending champion's advantage of returning to the same course as this year the event moves across the Qatari capital for the first time in its 23-year history from Doha Golf Club to Education City Golf Club, which offers a revolutionary and holistic approach to growing the game.

"I played so many new courses last year it's actually quite nice. You've almost got no bad memories, you're playing fresh," said Harding.

"It's a nice little challenge. 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.

"It's just one of those where you've got to go out and play with what you have on the day and deal with what happens. It's a good golf course, I've played nine holes and I think the wind's going to blow. It's going to make it challenging for scoring. You'll probably find it's not going to be 20 under par winning, it's going to anywhere in between 12 and 15," said the South African.

"I'm looking forward to going out, seeing if we can execute plans, make some birdies and see what happens."

Harding will tee off in Round 1 and 2 alongside last week's Oman Open winner Sami Valimaki and Italian Andrea Pavan (06:05 SA time).

- European Tour

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