Justin Harding seizes chance in Scotland after LIV Golf sanction suspended

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South Africa’s Justin Harding made the most of his late addition to the Genesis Scottish Open with a flawless opening 65 at the Renaissance Club.

DP World Tour members who played in the first LIV Golf event last month without permission had been banned from the £6.7million tournament, plus two other events co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour, and hit with individual fines of £100,000.

However, following a hearing before Sport Resolutions (UK) on Monday, the suspensions imposed on Harding, Ian Poulter and Adrian Otaegui were temporarily stayed, pending determination of their substantive appeals.

Harding’s fellow South African Branden Grace – who won the second LIV event in Portland – was also added to the field on Tuesday, with Harding and Otaegui sent out in the first group on Thursday and Poulter and Grace in the same position on Friday.

“I’m trying my best to just play golf, put food on the table,” Harding said. “I am by no means a fighter, I’m not confrontational so it’s an awkward situation to be in.

“I always thought it would be a bit tricky but didn’t realise it was going to be blown up as much as this. I thought it might have been handled a bit better by all parties.

“I was a little upset I was told I could not play. I have supported the European Tour for a long period and I’m happy to continue to do so. I’ve not had too many issues (with other players). There’s times when it’s a little uncomfortable but we have to look after ourselves.

Justin Harding
Justin Harding on the 10th hole during day one of the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club (Steve Welsh/PA)

“I have not signed a contract with LIV so I feel like I am in a slightly different position. I’ve played in the ones I’ve got into via an order of merit or world rankings and I have no idea if I’m in the next one.”

Harding has earned more than 1.1million US dollars (£918,000) from the individual element of the two LIV Golf events to date, finishing in a tie for 10th at Centurion Club in Hertfordshire and tied eighth in Portland.

“It was an invitational, it was worth a bucketload of money and I felt I could play in it,” he added of the inaugural event.

American Cameron Tringale overtook Harding at the top of the leaderboard in spectacular fashion, starting the back nine with six straight birdies to reach nine under, meaning he needed to play the last three holes in two under to shoot just the second 59 in DP World Tour history.

However, the world number 55 missed from 12 feet for birdie on the par-five 16th and parred the last two holes to return a 61, equalling the course record set by Bernd Wiesberger in 2019.

“I’ve had some flashes of brilliance in the last couple months but this was a special day for sure,” Tringale said.

“It would mean a whole lot (to win). I haven’t had a professional win on my own, and obviously Scotland is where golf started, so this place is special. Everyone here has appreciation for the game.”

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