The DP World Tour returns from a couple of weeks off this week when it begins three weeks in Africa with the Magical Kenya Open, a tournament which made it to this level to help out in Covid times last year and has remained on the schedule.
Justin Harding won the title last season and he is back to attempt to defend the crown but he will do so on a different course to the one he won on. We’re closing in on some big events in America so the field this week isn’t the deepest.
2021 – Justin Harding
2019 – Guido Migliozzi
We move to the Muthaiga Golf Club in the capital of Nairobi this week. This is the first viewing of the course on the DP World Tour but it was a regular feature when this event was staged on the Challenge Tour and as such a number of players in the field will be fairly familiar with it. The course is a par 71 which measures 7,184 yards but with the altitude of this part of Kenya it plays to nothing like that yardage so for these tour professionals the course could be at their mercy.
This course is a little quirky in that it is effectively two nine holes tracks put together. The front nine is full of undulations whereas the back nine is routed around a series of manmade lakes. Whichever nine you are on accuracy looks to be a primary key around here. This is going to be a low scoring event so players who go pin hunting and can hole putts should probably come up on the shortlist. I don’t think length is an issue in these conditions.
As you would expect, the field this week is largely a top class Sunshine Tour field rather than anything you would be likely to see on the DP World Tour. The defending champion Justin Harding is probably the headline act in the field although his compatriot Dean Burmester may well have a bit to say about that. In terms of the European charge that is headed up by the likes of Adri Arnaus, Adrian Meronk and Thomas Detry.
There are one or two other DP World Tour regulars who standout this week in the form of Adrian Otaegui, Marcus Armitage and Scott Jamieson while some of the non-South African international players are headed by Johannes Veerman and Masahiro Kawamura. This isn’t exactly a strong field but it is a competitive one and might well open up a guide to who is in form ahead of two more weeks in South Africa to come.
We have 16/1 joint favourites this week in the pair of Dean Burmester and Justin Harding. Burmester will be playing this course for the first time but he was eighth in this event last year. I just sense his strengths are negated here. Harding played here in 2012 with little success but he is clearly a much better player now and had a couple of top 10s in the desert over the last month or so. The only thing which puts me off him is the fact he is the defending champion. It is incredibly hard to defend a title successfully.
Two powerful European young guns come next in the betting at 18/1 in the form of Adri Arnaus and Adrian Meronk. Meronk has made a big start to the DP World Tour season and he was fifth here on the Challenge Tour in the past so he is likely to be a popular runner this week. Arnaus went well in the Saudi International and followed it with another top 10 in the UAE but he missed the cut on his only appearance here in 2018 and I sense his ultimate strengths don’t apply to this course so he isn’t for me.
The Belgian ace Thomas Detry has already seen his colleague Thomas Pieters land a title on the DP World Tour and he is 20/1 to follow in his footsteps this week. He is playing here for the first time so that is a negative as is the fact he is yet to win at this level despite having gotten into contention on a number of occasions. You would imagine if he is going to break his duck it would be at a lower level event like this but I’ll wait for him to win before he interests me at this price.
I was on Johannes Veerman for this title last year and when he led deep into the final round I was counting my chips only to see him stall and allow Harding in to take over. He is 22/1 to make up for that disappointment and he has won since then so he’ll be a more confident player now. That was obviously on a different course to this one but it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if the American comes out on top here.
Zander Lombard arrives in Kenya in decent form with three top three finishes in his last five starts with two of those coming in his last two outings so he is in decent form. He is a man who has plenty of length and probably is more of a length over accuracy player but that might mean that he doesn’t need to pound a driver. You don’t have successive top three finishes if you are not hitting the ball well anyway so whatever club he uses I think he is going to be a threat on this course. You tend to find Sunshine Tour players go well in this part of the world. Two of them won in Kenya when the European Tour was here last year and I fancy Lombard can continue that trend here.
Adrian Otaegui caught my eye when he was third in the Ras al Khaimah Championship a couple of starts ago and as someone who is generally as accurate as they come off the tee and into the greens he should really enjoy himself this week. He is also a decent putter and it was only a couple of years ago that he was winning twice in a season. That was in better fields than this one so if he gets his yardages right and everything he is more than good enough to be competing in a field of this quality. I’m happy to take my chances on him at 40/1.
I was a backers of Jacques Kruyswijk in this part of the world last season and he landed me a couple of places in Kenya so I’m going to get on him again. His form hasn’t been brilliant in the last few weeks but he won on the Sunshine Tour last year and generally hits a lot of fairways. If he can find the greens on a regular basis then there is no reason why he can’t go well, especially when you consider he already has a top 10 on this ground in his Challenge Tour days. He is the first of my outsiders this week.
Ashley Chesters is my second outsider. There are only certain courses where you think Chesters can contend because he isn’t the longest hitter in the world so the desert tracks and the resort courses are just not in his compass but this one should be right up his street. It is tight and fairly short so his lack of length isn’t exposed and his accuracy really comes to the fore. If he can get some putts to drop then there is nothing to suggest that he can’t go well. He had a top 15 in Kenya last season and was third in the shortened Joburg Open so it seems this part of the world serves him well. I’ll pay to see if it does so again here.
Finally I’ll have a punt on David Drysdale running hot this week. He isn’t the most reliable and like Chesters there probably aren’t many tracks he can win on but those where accuracy is required over length are the ones which will suit him and that is exactly what he has at his disposal here. It wasn’t so long ago that he was shooting a final three rounds of 71-70-71 at Valderrama which highlights that he likes tough tracks where there is an emphasis on thinking his way round. If he can putt well he is another who shouldn’t be far away.
Back Z.Lombard to win Kenya Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 41.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-6)
Back him here:
Back A.Otaegui to win Kenya Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 41.00 with Coral (1/5 1-7)
Back D.Drysdale to win Kenya Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 251.00 with Coral (1/5 1-7)
Back them here:
Back J.Kruyswijk to win Kenya Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 81.00 with Betfair (1/5 1-7)
Back A.Chesters to win Kenya Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 126.00 with Betfair (1/5 1-7)
Back them here: