You may not have realised it but there are actually two golf tournaments this week. While the heavy hitters are in Florida, the lesser lights head to Africa as the Kenya Open returns to the European Tour scene after being played at Challenge Tour level in the past.
Lorenzo Gagli won this tournament at the second tier last year and will hope to defend it to earn all he benefits that winning at this level brings. It is hard to say that a decent field opposes him because quite simply it doesn’t.
We are at the Karen Country Club which has hosted this tournament in the past but not for a few years. This is a treelined track which is said to be quite flat with tight fairways and small greens so we’re looking for a decent ball striker this week. Given we have small greens a decent scrambler could be worth a go as well.
The course itself measures 6,922 yards and is a par 71 and when you factor in the altitude on top of that it is a really short course by modern standards so this is going to turn into a second shot and short game event as long as a player finds the fairway from the tee.
Last week’s winner in Qatar, Justin Harding is in the field, and it is a good job he is because the rest of it is very ordinary even allowing for the appearances of George Coetzee and Erik Van Rooyen. Some of the better young talent in Europe is in the field this week but even then there are many up and coming players who have decided to give it a miss. The profile might well centre around Lorenzo Gagli who defends on a different course to the one that he won on last year.
Justin Harding is a 12/1 favourite to go back-to-back this week. I always mention how I don’t like the prospect of that but you’d have to suggest if anyone is going to deliver on successive weeks he has the best chance of all of them. He’ll know African conditions, he’s clearly hitting the ball well and if he has retained his focus then he could well lead his lot a bit of a dance. Even then though 12/1 is short with the motivation question mark hanging over him.
George Coetzee came back to life last week and he is 18/1 to go in here. Is he back to form or was last week just a decent tilt on a track he enjoys? Time will tell and while I’m tempted to back him because I don’t think this is going to take a huge amount of winning, I always want to know I’ve got some value in these second string events and I don’t think anything less than 25/1 is that.
Erik Van Rooyen has threatened at better European Tour tournaments than this one and I would imagine he could be popular at 20/1. He is a little too erratic for my liking but if he can keep it in play from the tee then there is every chance that he could run hot here. I’m not convinced he will keep it straight enough though. It is 25/1 bar the South African trio.
Clement Sordet ran well in the last tournament below the top tier in Oman and I think he can come on from that experience to win this. In fairness there were some good players mixed in that Oman field and it took a bit of winning in extreme conditions. I don’t think this will take anywhere near as much winning so the man with four top 20 finishes this season and another in the British Masters at the end of last term should be capable of contending very strongly here.
Anton Karlsson had a great week in Qatar last week where statistically he was one of the best players in the field. With that in mind it was no surprise that he was in that huge tie for second and although it was on a different course he was in the top 10 last year. At least we know the altitude and dry air is not going to worry him. Usually I take one week form with a pinch of salt but it might be more important than normal here so at 50/1 I’ll pay my money and take my chances.
Two men who find plenty of fairways and greens look overpriced to me here with the first of them being Gregory Havret who needs a big week having dropped off the tour at the end of last season. That obviously means he isn’t consistent at the better European level but there is no reason why he can’t be extremely competitive at this level. If the putter can get hot he can run strongly in this tournament as he did in Qatar around this time last year.
Bernd Ritthammer has no form to speak of this season so I can understand why he is a three figure price this week but he has finished third and seventh around here on the Challenge Tour so it could be that a return to a familiar surrounding brings out the best in him again. I keep banging on about how this won’t take a lot of winning so if the German can take advantage of good memories he might go close.
Back C.Sordet to win Kenya Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 34.00 with Boylesports (1/5 1-8)
Back G.Havret to win Kenya Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 101.00 with Boylesports (1/5 1-8)
Back them here:
Back A.Karlsson to win Kenya Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 51.00 with Coral (1/5 1-7)
Back B.Ritthammer to win Kenya Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 126.00 with Betfair (1/5 1-7)
Back him here: