Tour News

Australians lose ground on Qatar Masters' final day

Harding's world ranking continues to rise (Photo: Getty Images / European Tour )
It might not have been the finish Australians Nick Cullen, Jake McLeod and Minwoo Lee had been hoping for but all three have had a good week at the Qatar Masters, Cullen in particular recording one of his best European Tour finishes when 14th despite a disappointing final round of 72.

The trio had been well positioned to potentially contend for the title heading into day 4 but none were able to hold off the strong finishes from those who would eventually finish ahead of them in the final rundown.

Lee and McLeod finished tied for 20th after both recorded final rounds of 73, Lucas Herbert was 48th, while Deyen Lawson was 55th after Lawson in particular had been very well placed through 36 holes.

McLeod though would gain an additional bonus from the week having holed in one during round three and earning US$155,000 for his effort. 

33-year-old South African Justin Harding won his first European Tour title when producing a final round of 66 to defeat by two shots a large group of nine players who tied for 2nd place.

Harding has been a multiple winner of events on the African and Asian Tours but this is by far his most significant win and follows a standout year on the Asian Tour in 2018 when he finished 3rd on the money list there.

“It’s fantastic,” said Harding. “It’s still sinking in. I didn’t quite think it was enough, I thought there might be a play-off but I’m happy to get over the line eventually.

“I’ve been knocking on the door a little recently. It’s rewarding seeing the hard graft and change in mindset – seeing what’s involved and what’s going on. I’m really happy.

“I had to stay patient. I got off to a good start, made a couple of birdies and lost my head around the turn. My caddie Alan said we’re still in it and to make a couple on the back. I managed to keep myself in it and made a couple.

“I birdied 17 and 18, which was huge. I didn’t think 13 was clear, I thought there would be a play-off with how scores were looking on the back nine, but I’m happy to get over the line.”

Harding moves to 5th on the Race to Dubai Rankings and now moves close to the top 50 in the world after being outside the top 500 12 months ago.



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