Justin Harding to make Open Championship debut

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SOUTH Africa’s Justin Harding will make his Open Championship debut in July after winning International Final Qualifying (Africa) in Johannesburg.

The 27-year-old won the 36-hole event with a 14-under-par total of 130 and will be joined at Muirfield by Spain’s Eduardo De La Riva and fellow South African Darryn Lloyd, who finished on 11 under and nine under respectively. Harding, a three-times winner on the Sunshine Tour, carded nine birdies and one bogey in a final round of 64 to clinch one of the three places available.

“I’m so happy to get through,” Harding said. “There are about 70 players here and a lot of them have won tournaments, both on the European and Sunshine Tours, and to get one of only three spots is incredible. All of us as youngsters avidly watched The Open over the years and I’m really looking forward to my first major. With Ernie Els defending it will be a special one and I’ve heard that Muirfield is a phenomenal place, so everything feels perfect right now.”

De La Riva eagled the first in his round of 66, while Lloyd did likewise.