NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 20 – Kenya’s Samuel Njoroge had a bad day in the office with a disappointing 3 over par 74 as South African Justin Harding took a two shot lead into the final round of the 2021 Magical Kenya Open after an impressive 64 on day three at the par 71 Karen County Club on Saturday.
The performance saw Njoroge cut his day two total of -2 to plus one to drop down to 75th.
“Today was a bit tough, I wasn’t putting well all day. But I expect tomorrow to be a bit better than today, I plan to approach it a bit differently to today. I’m going to practice now on my short game so that I can improve tomorrow. Today I did not make any birdies, my putting was not good at all but I hope to make seven or eight birdies tomorrow,” Njoroge said.
Harding had his Day Three campaign effectively sewn up when he shot 7 under par 64.
The South African has fond memories of Karen Country Club after a closing 66, two years ago handed him a tie for second and moved him into the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking, sealing him a debut appearance at the Masters Tournament.
That performance came a week after his win at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and Harding will now go in search of a second European Tour victory at 16 under, two shots clear of Australian Scott Hend and American duo Kurt Kitayama and Johannes Veerman.
Veerman carded a course record 62 to put himself right in contention, while Kitayama registered a 66 and joint overnight leader Hend signed for a 68.
Scot Calum Hill was then at 13 under, two shots ahead of Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Gonnet.
Harding’s victory in Qatar just over two years ago was a fifth in nine months and four different countries, and in the following weeks he would go on to finish in the top 20 at Augusta National and at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
He has not quite hit those heights since but he knows what is required if he is to lift the trophy on Sunday.
“I’ll give it my best effort,” he said. “The golf course lends itself to a bunch of birdies. If you execute your golf shots and roll in a couple of putts you can certainly post a score.
“It’s just a matter of really taking advantage of the par fives and a couple of the driveable par fours and at the end of the day just being one shot better than the next guy.
“It’s just going to be a matter of executing plans and trying to get over the line.”
It’s just a matter of really taking advantage of the par fives and a couple of the driveable par fours and at the end of the day just being one shot better than the next guy
Harding started the day two shots off the lead but birdied the first and third, and when Kitayama made gains on the second and fifth the duo were in a tie with Hend at the top.
Another Harding birdie on the sixth handed him the solo lead but Hend eagled the par five and then added a birdie on the seventh to jump out into a two shot lead after starting his round with five pars.
Harding would not give up the chase, however, and he eagled the par four tenth with a wedge to join Hend before the 47-year-old made a birdie at the ninth to lead by one at the turn.
There was a tie at the top again as Harding birdied the 11th and a Hend bogey at the tenth dropped him back to 14 under alongside Kitayama, who had added birdies on the eighth, tenth and 11th.