Australia’s Scott Hend saw his hopes of winning a fourth European Tour title disappear in a disappointing finish to his fine week at the Kenya Open as South Africa’s Justin Harding took the title.
Harding produced a flawless final round of five-under-par 66 at Nairobi’s Karen Country Club on Sunday to seal a two-shot victory over Kurt Kitayama.
The 47-year-old Queenslander Hend had been lying joint-second going into the final round, just two off the lead.
But though he birdied his opening hole in the penultimate group to get within a shot of Harding, that was as good as it got for the man from Townsville, who struggled with his game for the rest of the afternoon.
Hend, who had made 18 birdies and an eagle over the first three rounds, conjured up three more birdies in the final round but saw all his good work undone with three bogeys and one double-bogey seven at the par-five 12th.
He ended up shooting a two-over par 73 amid everyone else’s birdie-fest and plummeted down the field to a joint-16th finish on 12-under par.
He ended up nine shots adrift of Harding, who celebrated winning his second European Tour title with a record score for the tournament.
The 35-year-old South African, whose maiden tour win came two years ago at the Qatar Masters, maintained his composure amid a steady challenge from American Kitayama to finish on 21-under par.
“It was hard work. I was happy with the way I played,” said Harding, who had three birdies and an eagle on the par-four ninth hole.
“I made a mess of 11 and 12 and ultimately the way I played 13 through 18 this week, it was a stressful time. I executed some shots and managed to make a couple of good par saves.”
Kitayama made two eagles and two birdies as he threatened to catch Harding by reducing his lead to one shot, but a bogey on the 11th meant he fell short.