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PREVIEW: 2024 DP World Tour – Kenya Open

The DP World Tour returns to action after a one-week hiatus for the first of three events held on the African continent: the Magical Kenya Open. Damien Kayat previews.

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The DP World Tour returns to action after a one-week hiatus for the first of three events held on the African continent: the Magical Kenya Open. Damien Kayat previews.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

2024 DP World Tour
Magical Kenya Open
Muthaiga Golf Club, Nairobi, Kenya
22 – 25 February

This event dates all the way back to 1967 and it was once quite a prestigious little stop. The old glory days of the event boasted marquee champions such as Seve Ballesteros and Ian Woosnam. The prestige of the event has certainly dwindled over time.

It was originally conceived as part of the Safari Circuit and it only became an official European designation in 1991 (where it was assimilated into the lower-tier Challenge Tour). It was actually only elevated to full European Tour status back in 2019.

The 2020 edition was cancelled due to Covid and this will be the 5th renewal of this event. Muthiaga Golf Club hosted the inaugural Kenya Open back in 1967 and this will be the 42nd time that this course has hosted the Kenyan national open.

Muthiaga Golf Club

Located in the North of Nairobi and on the outskirts of the Karura Forest, Muthaiga is a tree-lined track with plenty of water trouble. This is certainly a very idiosyncratic course that feels a little schizophrenic in nature (and for good reason).

Muthiaga actually started as a nine-hole course in 1913, with the second nine only being added in 1926. And it certainly feels like a game of two halves. The front nine plays considerably longer, weaving through undulating terrain.

The second nine, though shorter, is more perilous due to several man-man lakes. This course will play considerably shorter than the advertised 7,200+ yards (due to the extreme altitude this week). Players will need to take advantage of the four gettable par 5’s. I would look for players who have enjoyed success on tree-lined affairs such as Wentworth and Valderrama (two bastions of tree-lined European golf). Crans-sur-Sierre is actually an even better option as it is a tree-lined test played at severe altitude.

The Contenders

This week’s line-up is hardly going to generate massive ratings. Many of the leading DP World Tour players use this portion of the season to recharge ahead of more prestigious outings. Still, there are a few in-form players in the field.

Rikuya Hoshino won in Qatar last time out and he leads the markets this week. Dylan Frittelli won in Bahrain three weeks back and the South African will feel comfortable with potentially hot conditions.

Elsewhere, former champions such as Ashun Wu and Justin Harding will look to capitalise on a depleted field. Thirston Lawrence kept pace with McIlroy and Fleetwood at this year’s Dubai Invitational and he will be licking his lips at the state of this field.

Ewen Ferguson choked terribly here two years ago, shooting a final round 76 to surrender the title to Ashun Wu. This could be the perfect chance for the Scot to find some redemption.

Past Winners

2023: Jorge Campillo (-18)
2022: Ashun Wu (-16)
2021: Justin Harding (-21)
2020: event cancelled
2019: Guido Migliozzi (-16)

To Win Outright:

Rikuya Hoshinno 14/1 | Thriston Lawrence 14/1 | Ewen Ferguson 16/1 | Alex Fitzpatrick 20/1 | Romain Langasque 22/1

Value Bet

Shubhankar Sharma- To Win 66/1 | To Place 14/1

Sharma missed the cut last time out and also missed the cut in this event last year. But that only disguises how well he could be suited to this test. The Indian finished 16th at the Dubai Desert Classic and 37th at the Ras al Khaimah Championship. Those were decent performances on sprawling courses that don’t really suit Sharma. So, his form seems to be trending. Sharma was 13th on tour last year for driving accuracy and he has threatened to contend here in the past. He opened with rounds of 65 and 67 to share the halfway lead in 2022. Still just 27 years of age, this test should perfectly suit the metronomic Indian.

The Man to Beat- John Catlin- To Win 50/1 | To Place 11/1

This is exactly the kind of week where John Catlin could get his groove back. The deadly accurate American was a revelation some three years ago, picking up a trio of victories in 13 starts either side of Christmas 2021. It was a continuation of some solid Asian Tour form and it seemed to announce the arrival of a special talent. Catlin has cooled since then but there are reasons to believe he could compete this year. Firstly, his victories at the Andalucia Masters and Irish Open came on tight, tree-lined courses (Valderrama and Galgorm Castle). He has looked back to his best on the Asian Tour, picking up a 6th at the Thailand Classic and a 3rd last time out at the Malaysian Open. Also, there is the promise of some wind this week and Catlin loves it when conditions are tough.

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