SA’s Justin Harding swings onto golf’s global map

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JOHANNESBURG – He may have been an unknown when his name was on the list for the 2019 US Masters – the first Major of the season – but by the end of it everyone around the world who follows the game would have come to know who Justin Harding is and which country he comes from.

He’s certainly here for many years to come especially after his tied 12th place finish in a stellar field – he picked up R3.1-million for his efforts. It also gives him an automatic invite for the 2020 Masters.

The finish at the US Masters also moved him to No 44 in the world – he is now South Africa’s second highest ranked player in the world behind Louis Oosthuizen, who is at No 21.

Harding astonished, amazed and mesmerised everyone – including the commentators with his outstanding debut performance at Augusta National which is regarded as one of the toughest courses in the world.

But Harding, who came into the US Masters ranked at No 49 in the world, had the commentators going. They were singing his praises, telling the world that this 33-year-old from South Africa was No 217 in the world at the beginning of 2017. He came into the Masters on the back of seven wins on the Sunshine circuit, two on the Asian Tour and one recently on the European Tour.

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Justin Harding of South Africa (left) and Angel Cabrera of Argentina shake hands on the eighteenth hole during the 2019 Masters. Photo: EPA/Erik S. Lesser

They – Curtis Strange, Nick Faldo, and Frank Nobilo – were all in awe as Harding held the clubhouse lead for a while after shooting a 69 on the opening day.

He didn’t go away the next day as many would have thought. He followed it up with another remarkable three under-par 69 in the second round to stay in contention and among the big guns in world golf.

The praises continued and the more they spoke of Harding the more they spoke of where he had gained his grounding. The Sunshine Tour, which rarely gets the recognition for producing some of the top players in the world of golf, finally got their fair share of credit over the four days.

WITH Tiger Woods roaring back to where he belongs – he is now No 6 in the world after being around the 1, 199th players in the world in 2017, the sales of TaylorMade equipment is set to soar as all and sundry flock to the shop to purchase the clubs he used at the US Masters. 

His power to draw enthusiasts back to the game is phenomenal and soon the television ratings will no doubt rise again.

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Tiger Woods celebrates on the 18th hole to win the 2019 Masters. Photo: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Here are five things you need to know about Tiger Woods:

* Tiger’s 15th Major championship title is the seventh global victory for TaylorMade’s 2019 M5 & M6 Drivers featuring Twist Face Technology.

* Since the Farmers Insurance Open, Tiger opted for the M5 driver at 9° with the weights split in the rear track; recently he’s made the switch to a Diamana D+ 60 TX shaft.

* In addition to his M5 driver, Tiger also plays a 13° M5 fairway equipped with a Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 70 TX shaft.

* The Farmers Insurance Open also marked a new era for Tiger and his irons as he first put into play the highly-anticipated P7TW irons, which the company just last week made available to consumers. As he has for the majority of his career, Tiger has them equipped with True Temper’s Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts.

* Since the Memorial last year, Tiger plays Milled Grind wedges in a raw finish with a custom grind to his specification. As has become the norm, he plays a 56° & 60°, equipped with Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 shafts.

Iqbal Khan

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