There are 15 South Africans teeing up in the European Tour’s Magical Kenya Open starting in Nairobi on Thursday and it’s an event where the SA golfers traditionally do well.
Last year’s event was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, while the last two occasions the Kenya Open has taken place Italian golfers have won. For those who believe things come in threes then the Italians you must watch this week are Francesco Laporta, Lorenzo Gagli, Eduardo Molinari, Guido Migliozzi (the defending champion), Lorenzo Scalise and Nino Bertasio.
However, the South Africans invariably make their presence felt.
In the last Kenya Open in 2019 Louis de Jager and Justin Harding finished tie second, one shot behind Migliozzi. In 2015 Haydn Porteous won a playoff against Brandon Stone, while in 2014 Jake Roos won.
It is true though that this will only be the second Kenya Open that has full European Tour status but still, expect South Africans to feature on the first page of the leaderboard.
Which one, you ask? Perhaps George Coetzee, Justin Harding and Wilco Nienaber will shine this week. Coetzee and Darren Fichardt have the most wins on the European Tour (five each) in this field and Coetzee is ranked 24th on the current Race to Dubai list. Fichardt led for a long way at last week’s Qatar Masters, but it remains to be seen if the mental fatigue from that effort affects him in this quick turnaround.
The highest-ranked player in the field is England’s Aaron Rai and he’s a 33-1 shot in the betting, but my feeling is for George Coetzee (28-1) to be worth each way value for the week.
First round tee-off times
6.10am: Justin Walters
6.30am: Darren Fichardt, Dean Burmester
6.40am: Garrick Higgo
6.50am: Zander Lombard, JC Ritchie
7.10am: Justin Harding
7.30am: Haydn Porteous
7.40am: Jacques Kruyswijk
8.10am: Louis de Jager
11.40am: Jayden Schaper
12 noon: George Coetzee
12.10pm: Wilco Nienaber
12.20pm: Danie van Tonder
12.50pm: Mathiam Keyser