HARARE, ZIMBABWE - APRIL 20: Justin Harding during day 3 of The Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open at Royal Harare Golf Club on April 20, 2013 in Harare, Zimbabwe. (Photo by Petri Oeschger/Gallo Images/Sunshine Tour). For free editorial use, not for sale no commercial usage.

Lusaka – Justin Harding is looking to defend his title at the Zambia Sugar Open this week, where 140 professionals will battle it out at Lusaka Golf Club from Thursday.

“It’s a privilege to defend any national open, and this tournament is huge for the Zambian Golf Union,” Harding said on Wednesday.

“It’s one of our bigger events and I’m definitely going to try to make it two in a row.”

This week would mark Harding’s third title defence, and it could prove to be third time lucky as he hunted for the lion’s share of the R1,2-million on offer.

“It’s a good feeling to be defending champion this week and winning last year was really superb.

“I have been playing nicely recently and I’m looking forward to putting a few birdies together and seeing if I can’t lift the trophy again.”

With seven top-10s and a good record at Lusaka Golf Club, he was a solid bet for this week.

“I need to start peaking come Saturday and Sunday, but the game is feeling good at the moment,” he said.

“If you get on a roll, you can make some birdies at this track, but the focus is to get yourself into the mix on Sunday.”

There were plenty of past champions who would also be looking for success this week, including Adilson da Silva, who won the 2010 Zambia Open at Ndola Golf Club.

The top-ranked Brazilian had 10 Sunshine Tour wins and 47 top-10s to his name, which indicated the potency of his golf. This year alone he had made it to 27th on the Sunshine Tour and 21st on the Asian Tour Order of Merits.

“I had a good start of the year and I’ve been very confident about my game,” Da Silva said.

“My putting has been letting me down, but these greens look similar to what we play in Asia, so it should be a good one for me.”

Also in action this week was 2011 Zambia Open winner Doug McGuigan, who overcame Jean Hugo in a playoff at Nchanga Golf Club. He was joined by 2008 champion Tyrone Ferreira, who won at Chainama Hills Golf Club five years ago.

Leading the local charge was Madalitso Muthiya, who made 17 birdies at Lusaka Golf Club last year and finished the tournament tied for 28th on a level-par total. – Sapa