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Tuesday, 06 February 2024 12:41

Harding continues comeback in Bain's Whisky Cape Town Open.

By Michael Vlismas.

Cape Town – Justin Harding will continue his comeback to professional golf in this week's Bain's Whisky Cape Town Open at the Royal Cape Golf Club, which is the perfect venue for a man seeking the inspiration to return to the form of his 11 victories worldwide.

The City of Cape Town is the ideal backdrop for the 12th edition of this Sunshine Tour and European Challenge Tour co-sanctioned tournament, bringing together an international field in an internationally-recognised city.

Cape Town was recently ranked second in the world behind New York as the most desirable city to visit according to Time Out's World's Best Cities for 2024. The Mother City also saw a record number of 317 000 overseas visitors in December and 2.9 million visitors during 2023, with a number of the city's major attractions also receiving a record number of tourists including Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and Chapman's Peak Drive.

Table Mountain still stands out as one of of the most visited attractions, and it’s against the backdrop of this iconic natural wonder that this week's Bain's Whisky Cape Town Open will play itself out from Thursday to Sunday, with Harding in particular taking another step on his comeback journey in the province where he grew up and honed his game.

Harding made his return to competitive golf on the Sunshine Tour and European Challenge Tour last week following a long struggle with injury.

"It's been an interesting journey. I developed a limp in September 2022 and the tour doctor sent me for a scan which revealed a stress fracture in my hip. Specialists suggested a 16-week recovery timetable. I had a full card on the DP World Tour and thought I would gradually work my way back, but then I got assessed again last year by the same doctor and the results weren't good. Another scan revealed a double fracture and that it was a repetative strain issue, "said Harding.

"Before my comeback last week it was over 300 days since my last competitive round. The hardest part in coming back is that you come back with the knowledge of what you did in the past and what you know. I can’t do that anymore because of my body.

"As a professional golfer you also quickly realise how vulnerable you are when an injury likes this occurs. Through no fault of your own you can just lose the opportunity to earn. But I was also blessed to have had a little girl and fortunate to spend 15 months at home looking after her and ticking off those milestones. So now I'm also adjusting to being a dad on the road for the first time. Before I became a dad I never really related to the other dads on tour and how hard it is for them to leave the house and travel. So that's new for me."

Harding finished second in the 2016 edition of this tournament. That and being back in the province where it all began for him could prove a powerful motivator for him this week.

"I've done a lot of good work physically and it's now about taking that onto the course and in tournaments. Ideally I'd like to be as close to 100% physically and mentally by the time my first full DP World Tour event comes along. If that happens halfway through the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open then that would be great."