European Tour debut for Kenya Open

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Thomas Bjorn and ho-sung choi headline the field as Magical Kenya Open makes its debut on the European Tour this week

The man with the wackiest swing in the pro game makes his debut at this week’s Kenya Open.

Internet star Ho-sung Choi will tee it up along with more familiar names like Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn.

The South Korean – who became a viral star after footage of his “fisherman’s swing” was shared online — has accepted an invitation to compete in the East African event, which takes place at Karen Country Club in Nairobi from March 14-17.

The 45-year-old, who taught himself the game after reading golf magazines, is well-known for his unique follow-through. But he also has three professional titles to his name – including the Casio World Open in Japan.

“I can’t wait to compete on the European Tour,” said Choi, who has played a total of nine European Tour events dating back to 2009 and recently played on the PGA Tour at Pebble Beach.

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 “I have never been to Africa, but I have heard great things about Kenya and the golf courses there – I can’t wait to test myself against the European Tour players again,” he told europeantour.com.

“We are delighted to have Ho-sung Choi grace the 2019 Magical Kenya Open presented by Absa,” said Peter Kanyago, Kenya Open Golf Limited Chairman.

“His unique style of play appeals to numerous audiences around the world, capturing the attention and imagination of both golfers and non-golfers.

“It is pleasing to note that ardent followers of his distinct style, from across the world, will get to experience the magic of Kenya by following him in action at the tournament.”

Choi will join the likes of Bjorn and Shubhankar Sharma in Kenya, which will host a European Tour event for the first time this year having been part of the European Challenge Tour’s International Schedule since 1991.


The course

Karen Country Club was founded in 1937 and is one of the oldest golf clubs in Kenya.

A large part of the 18-hole course was built on the former coffee estate developed by the Danish pioneer Karen Blixen, whose life and times were depicted in the lyrical film Out of Africa. The shade trees from her coffee plantation still dominate parts of the golf course, 80 years after they were planted.

 

The field

A total of 15 European Tour champions are set to tee it up in Kenya, along with a host of rookies.

The field is headlined by 15-time European Tour winner Bjorn, but also includes rising stars Sharma, Renato Paratore and South African hope Haydn Porteous, who won the title four years ago, when it was a European Challenge Tour event.

They will all be hoping to emulate some of the great European Tour names who have won in Kenya, notably Seve Ballesteros, Ian Woosnam and Trevor Immelman.


Kenya Open Betting Tips

Justin Harding: 10/1
Last week’s winner notched up his fifth victory on three tours in the last nine months at the Qatar Masters, which was his third top 10 of 2019. He’s definitely the most in-form player, and ranks 8th for Scoring average, 8th SG: Around the green, 11th for Putter per round and 16th for birdie average. Tournament debut.

Erik Van Rooyen: 12/1
Van Rooyen followed a T36 at the WGC Mexico Championship with a 2nd place finish in Qatar last week. Looking for his first European Tour win, but had four top 10s on Tour last year and is a winner on both the Sunshine and Challenge Tours. MC at this event in 2017 but T19 in 2016 - which was when the tournament was last held at Karen CC. Ranks inside the top 50 on Tour for birdie average, driving distance, sand saves and putts per round.

George Coetzee: 16/1
Looking to go one better after also finishing as one of nine runner-ups at last week’s Qatar Masters, which followed a string of mixed results in 2019 (previous best of T38 and four MCs). A four time European Tour winner making his debut here. Ranks 35th SG: Putting and 37th for birdie average.

Jeff Winther: 22/1
Winther finished T8-T12-T14 in his last three starts on two different Tours, and was T15 when he last teed up at the Kenya Open in 2013. He’s still looking for his first professional victory.

Gangeet Bhullar: 25/1
In five starts on the European Tour in 2019 Bhullar, who is a nine-time Asian Tour winner, has gone T27-T38-T34-T27-T31. Making his debut in Kenya. Ranks inside the top 20 on the European Tour for par-3 and par-5 scoring, and 37th for putts per round.

Adri Arnaus: 25/1
The World No.148 claimed the Challenge Tour finale last year, and finished T14 in Qatar last week. Ranks 9th for SG: Off the tee and inside the top 35 on Tour for GIR and SG: Tee to green. MC at this event last year on debut, but it's a different course this year.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout: 25/1
One of nine players to finish runner-up last week, and will come to this course with confidence. He finished T4 in 2014.

Sebastian Soderberg: 33/1
Soderberg finished T20 at last week’s Qatar Masters, which followed a T21 in Oman. He also finished T6 in the Kenya Open last year, and won the event in 2016 at Karen CC. Ranks 16th for SG: Around the green on the European Tour.

Clement Sordet: 33/1
Sordet missed a chance to win in Oman and followed it up with a MC in Qatar, but don’t be surprised if he rebounds in a big way this week. His runner-up finish was his second top 10 in his last four starts, which also includes a T17 at the ISPS World Super 6 Perth. Last start here was a T54 in 2017.

Nick Cullen: 40/1
T31-T14 during his last two starts on at the Oman Open and Qatar Masters, and finished T25 in his last start at the Kenya Open. Ranked 1st on the challenge tour for scoring average last season.

Adrien Saddier: 50/1
Saddier is another player with a good history at the Kenya open, having finished 2nd at this event in 2017. A T27 last week in Qatar and T31 in Oman.

Sarah Pyett