Caldwell challenge fades as Harding edges closer to second Kenya win

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Despite carding a one-under par round of 70, Jonathan Caldwell saw his title hopes fade on moving day as Justin Harding edged towards back-to-back titles in the space of five days in Kenya.

Caldwell was three-under par through 14 holes on his moving day round before two late bogeys saw him fall to a share of 27th place at 10-under par. With all those around the Clandeboye professional making ground, he now trails South African Harding by seven stroke after last week’s winner opened up a three-shot lead over an otherwise packed leaderboard heading into the final day of the Kenya Savannah Classic supported by Absa.

The 35-year-old lifted his second European Tour title last week in the Magical Kenya Open presented by Johnnie Walker, having converted a two-stroke advantage heading into the final day. Now, in the second successive event at the beautiful Karen Country Club, Harding has an even bigger lead as he targets a third victory in three years on the Tour.

Should he win, it would the third time he was won back-to-back events – which he achieved on both the Sunshine Tour and the Asian Tour in 2018, all in the space of two months. A five under 66 moved him to 17-under par, three clear of a bunch of six players who share second spot on 14 under.

“Maybe it’s a bit of a surprise to be three clear because I feel like I struggled a bit out there. I couldn’t seem to give myself a good number from the fairway and when you’re playing at altitude and, as hot as the ball is out here, sometimes it’s hard to get the club selection right.

“After I bogeyed 14 unnecessarily it was anyone’s game, I was just happy with the way I finished and I just gave myself a chance. I’ve got no idea, I seem to be having a good gameplan around here and ultimately I’m probably executing more shots. I’ve hit it good off the tee, maybe not quite as good into the greens but I bailed myself out a couple of times with the putter.

“This morning it felt like everyone was going bananas, so it was a tricky day. I think my par save on eight was a bit of a booster. I think missing a short one on seven but then making that on eight and avoiding the bogey was at least a big plus.”

They include five-time winner Darren Fichardt – the South African making his 401st European Tour appearance this week – and five players who have yet to win on Tour, including David Drysdale – playing in his 519th event. Cormac Sharvin was back in a tie for 54th at six-under after carding a round of 70.

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