Pattaya, Thailand: Justin Harding cruised to a six-shot victory at the Royal Cup to become the first player since 2011 to win back-to-back titles on the Asian Tour.
The in-form South African fired a three-under-par 67 in the final round of the US$500,000 Asian Tour event. 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 two weeks ago, took home the winner’s purse of US$90,000 while earning his fourth title in a span of two months at the Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club.
Defending champion Shiv Kapur of India battled to a 71 to share second place with Australian Jake McLeod (67), Kurt Kitayama (67) of the United States and Chapchai Nirat, who finished as the highest ranked local player following a 68.
“It’s been a good little run. I can’t really put into words right now,” said Harding. “Two weeks ago it was a surprise, but obviously I’ve been playing nicely. I just tried to get three good rounds starting the week and put myself in position and then get the job done.
“I had my eyes on the leaderboard the whole time and saw the guys catching up. I felt pretty good with my game the entire week and I wasn’t making too any mistakes.
“I’m enjoying this run right now. The courses 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 yesterday.