BELEK – The $7-million Turkish Airlines Open is being played here and, fittingly, South Africa’s Justin Harding made a flying start to his second round by blitzing the Royal Maxx Montgomerie’s first nine in just 29 strokes.
“That’s my first sub-30 loop on the European Tour,” said the 33-year-old from Stellenbosch who birdied holes 3, 6, 7 and 8 and eagled the par-5 fourth which, in order to get up in two, the players face a long, intimidating approach over a broad expanse of water.
“In round one I made a bogey six there, when I found the drink with my second with a soft three-wood. Today I took three-iron, hit it to 25 foot and rolled in the putt,” said Harding who signed for a 65 and is on 10-under-par 134 for the tournament and just two off the lead of 132 held by young Austrian star Matthias Schwab. Belgium’s Thomas Detry, Sweden’s Alex Noren, and English pair Danny Willett and Ross Fisher are on 133, while Justin Rose, bidding to win this event for the third straight year, is alongside Harding on 134.
Harding, in describing his hot outward loop, this year’s Qatar Masters winner said: “I actually missed shortish birdies at one and two, then holed from just off the green for a birdie. Then, after the eagle, I hit it to 10 foot on six and rolled that one in, one foot on seven and tapped that in, and 25 foot on eight and made that too.
”So I was disappointed to miss a three-footer for par at 10. It was a naughty little bogey and my only one on the day. And I kind of cooled off on the back nine which I was quite cross about. I lost a bit of momentum and I had to walk along the tree-line and have a little chat with myself to get me focused again.”