NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 27 – Golf-crazy spectators will this week be treated to some exhilarating displays of ‘fairway artistry’ at the Magical Kenya Open (MKO) with familiar faces set to return to East African nation for the umpteenth time.
Among them is the magnificent South African trio of Toto Thimba Jnr, Justin Harding and Daniel van Tonder.
Another familiar face listed in the star-studded field of 156 is Guido Migliozzi of Italy who won the iconic Kenya Open incidentally the first year the iconic event was elevated from the Challenge Tour to the lucrative European Tour (now DP World Tour) in 2019.
Toto Thimba is no stranger to the Kenyan greens and fairways.
He is best remembered for his stealer form that won him the coveted KCB Karen Masters in 2019 following a battle against overnight leader, Stephen Ferreira.
Thimba claimed the 2019 Karen Masters after carding a course record of 7-under par, 65 to rack up the crown with an impressive 26-under par 262 gross.
–Harding back in the saddle–
Harding was in fine form last year when he held on to his overnight lead to win his second ever European Tour title at the Kenya Open by two shots with a 5-under 66 in the final round.
The crack South African is back on familiar territory and will be hoping to repeat the scintillating form in 2019 that earned him his first European Tour victory by winning the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters by two strokes over nine runners-up.
The following week he was a joint runner-up at the 2019 Kenya Open, a result that lifted him into the world top 50 and indeed gave him an entry into the 2019 Masters Tournament where he finished in a share of 12th place to earn his place at the 2020 Masters Tournament.
–Guido Migliozzi in the mix–
Also in the mix is Italy’s Guido Migliozzi who won the first European Tour in Karen in 2019 with a final round of 69 to claim the coveted title by a single shot from Adri Arnaus, Louis De Jager and Harding.
Migliozzi was just playing his 14th European Tour event then and will be among the players to watch at Muthaiga this week.
–Master of Savannah Classic–
Another star who possesses an insatiable appetite for the title in Kenya is last year’s Savannah Classic winner Daniel van Tonder.
South Africa’s van Tonder has lots of vivid memories for Kenya where he claimed his maiden European Tour victory at the Par 72 Karen Country Club course last year when he defeated Jazz Janewattananond with a tap-in birdie on the third playoff hole.
In December 2021, van Tonder won the SA Open Championship; the Sunshine Tour’s flagship event.
The European Tour has from 2022 been renamed the “DP World Tour” after the European Tour group and DP World jointly announced a ground-breaking evolution to their long-term partnership, with DP World becoming the new title sponsor of the group’s main tour from the start of the 2022 season.
The agreement last year heralded a new era in the history of the European Tour group, which, along with DP World, will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2022, the first season of the newly named DP World Tour.
“The DP World Tour is a natural evolution of our decade-long partnership, and the presence of ‘World’ in our new title better reflects our global reach,” Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour group was quoted as saying.
The Magical Kenya Open will run from Thursday through to Sunday with Friday’s round two being used as a yardstick to ascertain the tournament cut for pros who will proceed to the next two rounds on Saturday and Sunday.
DP WORLD TOUR 2022 WINNERS SO FAR
Nov 25 – 28 – RSA Joburg Open (Randpark GC, Johannesburg) – THRISTON LAWRENCE
Jan 20 – 23 -UAE Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship (Yas Links, Abu Dhabi, UAE)-THOMAS PIETERS
Jan 27 – 30 – Dubai Desert Classic (Emirates GC, Dubai, UAE) – HOVLAND
Feb 03 – 06 – Ras al Khaimah Championship presented by Phoenix Capital (Al Hamra GC, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE) NICOLAI HØJGAARD
Feb 10 – 13 -Ras al Khaimah Classic (Al Hamra GC, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE) -RYAN FOX
SELECTED KENYA OPEN INVITATIONS
Category 6a — Professional Tournament Invitations
Toto THIMBA JNR (Silverlakes Golf Estate- RSA)
Jayden SCHAPER (Ebotse Golf Estate- RSA)
Daniel NDUVA (Nyali G&CC-KEN)
Ronald RUGUMAYO (UG)
Robson CHINHOI, (Royal Harare GC)
Sebastian HEISELE (GER)
Paul CHIDALE (Lilongwe GC -MLW)
Category 6b — Amateur Tournament Invitations
Adel Taufiq BALALA (Nyali G&CC)
Taimur MALIK (Muthaiga GC)
MIchael KARANGA (Kiambu GC)
Njoroge KIBUGU (Muthaiga GC)
Dennis MAARA (Limuru GC)
John LEJIRMA ( Kenya Railways GC)
Category 8 — National
Dismas INDIZA ANYONYI (Mumias GC)
Simon Ngige MBURU (Thika Sports Club)
Ooko Erick OBURA (Golf Park GC)
Greg SNOW (Muthaiga GC)
Jastas Madoya ASENA (Great Rift Valley Golf Lodge Resort)
Samuel Njoroge CHEGE (Railways)
David Wakhu (Golf Park GC)
Mohit MEDIRATTA (Sigona GC)