Harding makes it two for two with Royal Cup triumph

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South Africa’s Justin Harding poses with the Royal Cup trophy at Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club in Pattaya, Sunday, July 29.
South Africa’s Justin Harding poses with the Royal Cup trophy at Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club in Pattaya, Sunday, July 29.

Justin Harding of South Africa cruised to a six-shot victory at the Royal Cup in Pattaya last Sunday to become the first player since 2011 to win back-to-back titles on the Asian Tour.

The in-form Harding fired a three-under-par 67 in the final round of the US$500,000 Asian Tour event at the Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club. With a winning total of 14-under-par 266, Harding became the first player to win twice in his first two starts in Asia.

The 32-year-old, who won the BANK BRI Indonesia Open three weeks ago, took home the winner’s purse of US$90,000 while earning his fourth title in a span of two months.

Defending champion Shiv Kapur of India battled to a 71 to share second place with Australia’s Jake McLeod (67), Kurt Kitayama (67) of the United States and Chapchai Nirat, who finished as the highest ranked local player following a final round 68.

“It’s been a good little run, I can’t really put into words right now,” said Harding after collecting the Royal Cup trophy. “Two weeks ago it was a surprise, but obviously I’ve been playing nicely and just tried to get three good rounds starting the week and put myself in position and then get the job done. I’m enjoying this run right now. The courses out here in Asia allow me to play strategically and I’m benefitting so I don’t find that I am trying too hard and just letting it come to me.”

The Royal Cup is held in honour of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, who celebrated his 66th birthday on Saturday, July 28.

Defending champion Shiv Kapur of India finished tied for second place after a final round 71.
Defending champion Shiv Kapur of India finished tied for second place after a final round 71.