Over the past 12 months South Africa’s Justin Harding has travelled to an astonishing 21 countries - here we track his remarkable journey to Augusta.
After holding the clubhouse lead at Augusta National Golf Club yesterday during his first-ever Masters round, we chart the 33-year-old’s pathway to the top of the professional game via several key dates.
Date: April 22, 2018. Tournament: Zimbabwe Open. Location: Royal Harare Golf Club, Harare, Zimbabwe. World Ranking: 380.
Thanks to a closing 67, Harding would finish in tied fifth in the Sunshine Tour event.
Date: April 29, 2018. Tournament: Mopani Redpath Zambia Open. Location: Nkana Golf Club, Kitwe, Zambia. World Ranking: 275.
Another good week on the Sunshine Tour, and despite ending the week four shots behind eventual champion Rourke van der Spuy, Harding would finish in solo second.
Date: May 13, 2018. Tournament: Investec Royal Swazi Open. Location: Royal Swazi Sun Country Club, Ezulwini Valley, Eswatini/Swaziland. World Ranking: 186.
Went one better in his next start after success in Zambia. Proved too good for the rest of the field by excelling in the Modified Stableford tournament with 47 points. Was the fifth Sunshine Tour win of his career.
Date: May 20, 2018. Tournament: Lombard Insurance Classic. Location: Royal Swazi Sun Hotel, Ezulwini Valley, Eswatini/Swaziland. World Ranking: 157.
Two wins in two weeks for Harding. Pipped countryman Jake Roos in a play-off to take home his sixth Sunshine Tour title.
Date: July 15, 2018. Tournament: Bank BRI Indonesia Open. Location: Pondok Indah Golf Course, Jakarta, Indonesia. World Ranking: 124.
After some time off and another good finish in his native South Africa, Harding travelled to Indonesia to compete on the Asian Tour. After three rounds in the 60s Harding found himself on top of the leaderboard going into the final day, and after a closing 71 he held his nerve to triumph, again.
Date: July 29, 2018. Tournament: Royal Cup. Location: Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club, Pattaya, Thailand. World Ranking: 99.
After travelling from Indonesia to Kenya – where Harding finished tied 18th at the KCB Karen Masters on the Sunshine Tour – the South African returned to Asia and was once again back in the winner’s circle in Thailand. Proving way too good for the rest of the field, Harding won by a staggering six shots to move inside the top 100 in the world for the first time.
Date: August 5, 2018. Tournament: Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways. Location: Natadola Bay Golf Club, Natadola, Fiji. World Ranking: 101.
Following his Thailand triumph Harding travelled 5,736 miles to Natadola in Fiji. Despite another long trip he still finished a very respectable tied 25th.
Date: August 10, 2018. Tournament: US PGA Championship. Location: Bellerive Golf Club, St. Louis, Missouri. World Ranking: 101.
From Fiji straight to his first-ever American Major. It wouldn’t be Harding’s week this time, though, as he missed the cut by two shots.
Date: September 23, 2018. Tournament: Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup. Location: Musashi Country Club, Saitama, Japan. World Ranking: 97.
After his Major disappointment, Harding dusted himself off and made consecutive cuts in South Africa, and then over in Korea, before travelling to Japan for what proved to be another good week, with Harding finishing in second place behind Yuta Ikeda.
Date: September 30, 2018. Tournament: Mercuries Taiwan Masters. Location: Taiwan Golf and Country Club, Tamsui, Taiwan. World Ranking: 93.
Another week, another new country and another top-five finish for Harding, this time in Taiwan where he claimed a share of fourth.
Date: October 28, 2018. Tournament: WGC-HSBC Champions. Location: Sheshan International Golf Club, Shanghai, China. World Ranking: 90.
After another top-ten finish in Taiwan, and another made cut over on the PGA Tour in the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, Harding arrived in China for his first World Golf Championships event where he finished tied 46th in the limited-field tournament.
Date: November 25, 2018. Tournament: Honma Hong Kong Open presented by Amundi. Location: Hong Kong Golf Club, Fanling, Hong Kong. World Ranking: 90.
Despite a month away from competition Harding swiftly picked up where he left off by claiming a share of 14th in the season-opening event of the 2019 Race to Dubai.
Date: December 2, 2018. Tournament: Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open at Anahita. Location: Four Seasons Golf Club, Anahita, Mauritius. World Ranking: 81.
From Hong Kong to Mauritius where Harding put himself firmly in contention for a maiden European Tour title – before eventually finishing in a share of fourth. After starting the year as World Number 709, would finish it in 85th place.
Date: January 27, 2019. Tournament: Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Location: Emirates Golf Club, Dubai. World Ranking: 80.
Although Harding started 2019 slowly with a missed cut in Indonesia and a share of 51st in Singapore, he would hold his own against some of the world’s elite players in the desert – claiming a share of seventh.
Date: February 3, 2019. Tournament: Saudi International powered by SBIA. Location: Royal Greens G&CC, King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia. World Ranking: 73.
Another good week in the Middle East for Harding, who finished tied 11th after going up against three of the world’s top four at the time, in the shape of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Justin Rose.
Date: February 10, 2019. Tournament: ISPS Handa Vic Open. Location: 13th Beach Golf Club, Geelong, Victoria, Australia. World Ranking: 65.
A first trip Down Under for Harding yielded more success in the shape of a tied fourth finish.
Date: March 10, 2019. Tournament: Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. Location: Doha Golf Club, Doha, Qatar. World Ranking: 52.
The true breakthrough. Following an unsuccessful week in Oman Harding bounced back immediately to claim his first European Tour title and reach the cusp of the world’s top 50.
Date: March 17, 2019. Tournament: Magical Kenya Open presented by Absa. Location: Karen Country Club, Nairobi, Kenya. World Ranking: 48.
Harding’s phenomenal run continued back in Africa. Remarkably the week after winning he played himself into contention again, before finishing as a runner-up to break into the world’s top 50 – a Masters invite now firmly within his grasp.
Date: March 31, 2019. Tournament: WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. Location: Austin Country Club, Austin, Texas, United States. World Ranking: 48.
Job done. Thanks to group stage victories over Matthew Fitzpatrick and Luke List, Harding solidified his place in the world’s top 50 – Augusta National beckons!
Date: April 11, 2019. Tournament: Masters Tournament. Location: Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Georgia, United States. World Ranking: 49.
On his Masters debut, and out early on Day One, Harding cards a three under par round of 69 to take the clubhouse lead.