Harding moves into the joint lead at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open

Sat 01 Dec 2018

Harding moves into the joint lead at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open


Beau Champ, Mauritius, December 1: South Africa’s Justin Harding is poised for another win on the Asian Tour after carding an eight-under-par 64 to grab a share of the lead with United States’ Kurt Kitayama at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open on Saturday.

The 32-year-old displayed the form that led him to two titles on Tour this season at the Four Seasons Golf Club, Mauritius at Anahita.

Harding rode on a hot putter as he put together a bogey-free round that was highlighted by eight birdies. Starting the day in tied-seventh, he moved up into the joint lead with Kitayama on 16-under-par 200.

Kurt Kitayama of the United States

Kitayama, who was adjusting to the change in wind conditions, fought to a 70 to stay in the hunt for his maiden Asian Tour title. The American started his day ideally with two birdies in his first four holes. However, he could not get the momentum going and even made an uncharacteristic bogey on the 12th.

The 25-year-old Kitayama will be heading into the final round of a tournament in the lead for the first time on the Asian Tour.

Chikkarangappa S. of India was struggling for the majority of the day, as he found only nine out of 18 greens-in-regulation. A birdie-birdie finish lifted his spirits and kept him in contention at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.

Conversely, Frenchman Matthieu Pavon was progressing steadily, making birdies on two, nine and 13. He dropped a shot on 15th but bounced back with a birdie on the next hole. He ended his day with a bogey on 18th.

Did you know:

  • Harding is ranked first in putts per round (26) and second in putts per greens-in-regulation (1.475) at the tournament.
  • In his two victories on the Asian Tour this season (Bank BRI Indonesia Open and Royal Cup), Harding was leading after three rounds.
  • Harding third on the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings, trailing the leader Shubhankar Sharma, by US$331,817. A good finish in Mauritius will close the gap significantly.
  • He is currently 90th on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), his highest position yet.
  • Kurt Kitayama, a former University of Nevada-Las Vegas standout, turned professional in 2015 and had played on the Web.com Tour for the past two years before.
  • At 326.3 yards, he is ranked first in average driving distance after three round of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.
  • Kitayama has three top-10s on the Asian Tour this season. He was tied-fourth at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open, tied-second at the Royal Cup, and tied-fourth at the Asia-Pacific Open Golf Championship Diamond Cup.
  • Chikkarangappa S. has won 11 titles on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI), with the most recent one being the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational 2018.
  • He enjoyed his best season on the Asian Tour in 2016, when he finished a career-high 27th on the Order of Merit.
  • Chikkarangappa was picked by S.S.P. Chawrasia to represent India at the 2016 ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf. The team finished in tied-22nd.

Players’ Quotes

Justin Harding (Rsa) – Third round 64 (-8), total 200 (-16)

I never really like to think about things as I walk down the holes but I felt like I played pretty well today. I had good control, especially in the first 10 to 13 holes. I kind of felt like I could birdie every hole out there.

I certainly gave myself a few chances. The toughest stretch of the course is 14, 15 and 16.

I got off to my good start and it was just more about making some good pars out there and at the end of the day, I did the job. That is, putting myself in a decent position for tomorrow.

I’ve got some good numbers here. My caddy and I fought hard last week in Hong Kong, but we just never really seemed to get some good numbers.

I feel like I have an excellent putter in my hands. It was a tough day starting out, but I got off to a hot start.

On 18, the hole makes you feel like you want to get a good score, especially coming in. It’s been nice to me in the last couple of days.

It’s a tough day though because, at this golf course, if you miss it in the wrong spot you’re going to get hurt. I thought there were some good pins out there, especially on the back nine. Conversely, on some holes, if you’re on the wrong side of the holes, you had no chance. So, I kind of managed my game well.

I enjoy being up there [in the lead]. It’s good. I have a pretty good attitude in terms of holding leads. I like it when guys coming at me, rather than me having to chase the leader as I sometimes get in my own way when I’m chasing. So, I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

Kurt Kitayama (Usa) – Third round 70 (-2), total 200 (-16)

Today played a little tougher. Being in the last group added a little more pressure. I made two birdies in the first four holes and I grinded it out, made a bogey at the back followed it up with another birdie.

It was windy in the first two rounds and it was tricky in that way. I was trying to adjust to that. I just didn’t hit as well as I did on the first two days.

[On being tied with Justin Harding for the lead] There are still guys who are just a few shots back. With things playing out the way it did today, there will be plenty of scoring opportunities and it will be a shootout.

I’m not sure if being in the lead will affect me. Let’s see how I’m feeling in the morning, how the wind is and see if I can hit as many drivers as I did the first two days. Then, I will make adjustments along the way.

Chikkarangappa S. (Ind) – Third round 71 (-1), total 203 (-13)

Over the front nine, I felt like I was playing football on the golf course.  I have only hit two greens-in-regulation and somehow managed to make the turn at even par. I managed to pull back in the end. The birdies on 17th and 18th were very important for me to get back in the hunt. Now, I’m just three shots behind.

[On the chip-in on three] I was plugged in the bunker and I didn’t expect that to go in. I got lucky there.

Today, playing in a two-ball felt like a marathon for me. I do take a bit of time and I just need to focus on that and not get pressured by my routine. If I can find five greens-in-regulation and shoot one under, tomorrow I’ll just need to shoot 15 greens-in-regulation which will be able to help me to make more birdies and with that, have a chance of winning.

After shooting eight-under par on Thursday, I have always thought about finishing at the top. I dreamed of winning an Asian Tour event and a European Tour event. Fortunately, I’m in a good position to do that as I’m just three shots behind. I just need to go out there and play like how I did during the first round and that should do the work for me.

Matthieu Pavon (Fra) – Third round 70 (-2), total 203 (-13)

I played well, hit some really solid putts but didn't hole a few. This is the only thing I struggled with today because the game was pretty solid. 

The game since the start of the week has been pretty solid, the driving is decent and the iron shots are really good. The only thing I was looking for was to drop more putts and I did not, so I will try tomorrow.

The tactic will be the same as the first three days. I have played well, I just need to get a bit closer to the flags and hole more putts but I like where I am and I will try to fight to win the title this week.

Of course, I think about winning, as I've never won before. It's going to be a new day. I’ll restart everything and try to do my best. If everything goes the right way, I will have a chance to take the title.


About Asian Tour

As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Rolex (Official Timekeeper), Panasonic (Official Consumer Electronics), Habitat for Humanity (Official Sustainable Development Partner), ECCO (Official Footwear Sponsor), Titleist and FootJoy (Official Web Partner), Bloomberg TV (Official International Media Partner), Bloomberg Businessweek Chinese (Official International Media Partner), Wall Street Journal (Official International Media Partner) and Sentosa in Singapore which is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.