All eyes will be on Kenya as the Magical Kenya Open 2023 gets underway tomorrow at Muthaiga Golf Club. This will be the fourth Magical Kenya Open event to be staged under the DP World Tour banner following the tournament’s elevation to European Tour status in 2019.
Kenya’s C J Wangai playing alongside Spaniard Borja Vitro and Englishman Tom Murray will be the first on the course tomorrow at 7.10 am on the first tee.
Here are some interesting stats ahead of tomorrow’s tee off;
South Africa has the highest number of players at this year’s tournament. A total of 22 South Africans will tee it up at the Magical Kenya. England, with 20 players, follows closely. During the Magical Kenya Open 2022, England had the highest number of players who made the cut. Eleven Englishmen made it to the weekend rounds with David Horsey the highest finisher in 5th position. Ten English players exited the competition early after failing to make the cut. South African golfers collectively made Kshs 30 million after placing eight players in the weekend rounds.
Seven players who finished in the top ten in last year’s edition are back to try their luck at Muthaiga. They are led by defending champion Ashun Wu whose -16 gross score ensured the Magical Kenya trophy went to Asia for the first time. Wu is joined by German Hurly Long and Canadian Aaron Cockerill who finished joint second. Other top 10 finishers back at Muthaiga include Marcus Kinhult, Ewen Ferguson, Adri Arnaus and Oliver Bakker who were all tied in eighth position.
There will be four past winners at Muthaiga this week trying to emulate Maurice Bembridge (1969) in their quest for a second Kenya Open trophy. These are Ashun Wu, 2021 champion Justin Harding of South Africa, Italian Lorenzo Gagli who won in 2018 and Edoardo Molinari the 2007 champion. Apart from Wu, Harding and Gagli have not had a good start to the current season. Gagli who is currently ranked 1107th in the world and is yet to win on the DP Tour and has missed three cuts in the last five starts this season. Harding’s best performance this season was a T59 finish at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic.
Out of the 150 professionals at Muthaiga, only three are in the top-100 of the World Golf Ranking. The highest ranked player is Adrian Otaegui of Spain who is in position 82. He is followed by compatriot Adri Arnaus (86) and Robert McIntyre (94) from Scotland.
Kenya will field 15 players- nine pros and six amateurs. The local pros are Dismas Indiza, Greg Snow, Jastas Madoya, Samuel Njoroge, Simon Ngige, CJ Wangai, Daniel Nduva, Mutahi Kibugu and Mike Kisia. The amateurs’ contingent includes Dennis Maara, John Lejirma, Njoroge Kibugu, Adel Balala, Jay Sandhu and Daniel Kiragu.