DOHA, South Korea’s Jinho Choi had saved his best for the last as he signed for a brilliant 64 to set the clubhouse target at 11 under, but that was not enough to stop Justin Harding, as the South African birdied three of his last four holes to win the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, his first European Tour win, at the Doha Golf Club course on a thrilling Sunday.
Harding’s six under par 66 gave him a two-shot lead and although he had to endure an anxious wait, he had the last laugh as the South African trio of Christiaan Bezuidenhout, George Coetzee and Erik van Rooyen, Swede Anton Karlsson, Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Spaniards Jorge Campillo and Nacho Elvira, England’s Oliver Wilson and Choi finished a nine-way tie for second, a European Tour record.
“It feels good,” said Harding, who came to Doha without full playing privileges after finishing third on last season’s Asian Tour.
“It was nerve-wracking, especially coming off, it’s a situation I haven’t really been in. I didn’t enjoy it but it’s good fun, I’m glad it happened and now we move on.
“I get into the events that I’d like to be into again, the schedules change, I’m no longer having to pick and choose. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens going forward and playing in some bigger events,” said the 33-year old, who is the fifth South African winner of the Mother of Pearl trophy.
Darren Fichardt was the first South African to win the Qatar Masters, in 2003, Ernie Els took it in 2005, Retief Goosen won two years later while Branden Grace claimed two successive titles in 2015 and 2016.
Earlier Choi made six birdies and an eagle in his brilliant 64 but Harding had the perfect reply with eight birdies even though two consecutive bogies on six and seven had put him in a spot of bother briefly.
Overnight leader Wilson had a tough day as he had three bogies and four birdies in a one-under-par 71.
Source: Qatar Olympic Committee