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2024 Magical Kenya Open Preview, Picks & Analysis

By: | Mon 19 Feb 2024

After a well-deserved two-week break, the DP World Tour returns to action this week with the Magical Kenya Open at Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi with Japan’s Rikuya Hoshino looking to continue his extraordinary start to the season.

He finished second at both the Australian Open and Australian PGA, and then made the breakthrough by winning the Qatar Masters. He is riding high in the Race to Dubai and has now risen to 75th in the world rankings - another victory will almost certainly get him into the top 50 and secure his place in the majors. 

Last year, a five-under-par final round of 66 took Spain’s Jorge Campillo to 18 under for the week and earned a two-stroke victory over another Japanese player, Masahiro Kawamura.

Campillo had finished with four straight birdies on Saturday and a similar run - four in five - on Sunday’s front nine kept him in control of the tournament, the highlight a pitch to five feet at the seventh.

Another gain at the tenth was given straight back on the 11th but a succession of pars kept him out in front, a fine approach to within ten feet at the 16th keeping the run going and helping hold off the challenge of Kawamura.

Ryo Hisatsune set the early clubhouse target at 15 under, narrowly missing out on a closing eagle that would have taken him within one of Campillo, who again put himself in prime position on the 17th green.

A birdie there, with Kawamura missing his attempt, gave him a three-shot lead going up the last and the opportunity to knock a routine iron and pair of wedges into the heart of the green, a two-putt par sealing his third DP World Tour win and ending a three-year wait since his victory at the 2020 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.

Seve Ballesteros won this event in 1978, with Campillo the fourth Spanish winner after Jose Maria Canizares and Jordi Garcia Pinto in 1984 and 2013 respectively.

He said: “It’s hard to put my name under those names. Where I am from, the little town, I am very proud.

“Obviously it’s always nice to win a golf tournament but to put my name on the same trophy as Seve is obviously more special for a Spaniard.

“We will (celebrate) when I get back. I will try to enjoy the moment now, sign the scorecard and just get ready for the next tournament.

“You know how golf is, you win now and then the next day you are not that good any more.”

Another player looking to continue the fine start he has made to 2024 is South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli.

He turned professional in 2010 while ranked inside the top 10 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. As an amateur he had competed for the University of Texas and holed the winning putt to give the Longhorns' their first National Championship in 40 years

It took time for Frittelli to make the adjustment to the paid ranks. He won the 2016 Rolex Trophy and had nine top ten finishes on the Challenge Tour in 2016 to earn his 2017 European Tour card.

In 2017 a tie for second place in the Eye of Africa PGA and a playoff loss at the China Open lifted Frittelli into the world top-100 for the first time. In June 2017 he won his first DP World Tour event, the Lyoness Open. He was also runner-up at the Turkish Airlines Open and tied fourth at the DP World Tour Championship, finishing 19th in the Race to Dubai.

In 2018 he played several PGA Tour events and qualified for the Web.com Tour finals, where he secured his PGA Tour card. By far his biggest success came in 2019 when he won the John Deere Classic, shooting 21 under par.

He had a miserable time on the PGA Tour in 2023, lost his card and returned to the DP World Tour. 

He bounced back to form in style by winning the recent Bahrain Championship for his third DP World Tour win. Frittelli admitted that his confidence had been at rock bottom but he worked hard over the winter and has finally rediscovered something approaching his best form again.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

Kiradech Aphibarnrat is another looking to make his way back. He won his age group at the Junior World Golf Championships in 2003 and 2004 and turned professional four years later.

He has four DP World Tour victories to his name, the 2013 Malaysian Open, 2015 Paul Lawrie Matchplay and Shenzen International and the 2018 ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth. 

On the back of top-five finishes in three World Golf Championships - as well in the BMW PGA Championship - he broke into the top 30 of the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in 2018 and then attempted to divide his time between the PGA Tour and DP World Tour. But like many before him, he struggled and lost his playing privileges on both tours. He came through final qualifying on the DP World Tour last year and will now be focusing fully on what amounts to his home tour. He is a naturally gifted golfer and will surely come good again.

Spanish golfers have a good record in this event. Look out for Adrian Otaegui this week. He has made a poor start to the year but is a quality golfer. He won 11 major titles as an amateur, including the 2010 British Boys Amateur Championship.

He played a mixture of Challenge Tour and DP World Tour events during his first few years as a professional before finishing 69th in the 2016 Race to Dubai after jointly winning the Q-School to regain his playing privileges in 2015.

Otaegui enjoyed his breakthrough victory at the 2017 Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play, before securing his second title at the inaugural Belgian Knockout in May 2018. He followed that with a win at the 2020 Scottish Championship after a final round nine under par 63 and his most recent success came at the 2022 Andalucía Masters.

Tournament Winners:

The inaugural event was won in 2019 by Guido Migliozzi, in 2021 by Justin Harding, in 2022 by Ashun Wu and last year by Jorge Campillo. There was no event in 2020 because of the pandemic.

The Course:

Muthaiga Golf Club, located outside Nairobi, is a par 72 measuring 7,228 yards. It is tree-lined, calling for straight hitting, and features several water hazards and plenty of bunkers. Expect to hear Sky Golf commentator Tony Johnstone salivating about the wildlife.

Form Guide:

Qatar Masters champion Rikuya Hoshino has made a remarkable start to the season, with a victory and two runner-up finishes. It will be fascinating to see whether he can continue that form in the weeks ahead. South African Thriston Lawrence tied 11th at the Alfred Dunhill Championship and was joint runner-up at the Dubai Invitational alongside Rory McIlroy - he is a four-time winner and a hugely impressive ball striker.

To Win:

Thriston Lawrence. Fabulous ball striker

Each Way:

Rikuya Hoshino. Has his eye on the top 50

Each Way:

Ewen Ferguson. Still looking for consistency

Five to Follow:

Thriston Lawrence. Could become world-class

Rikuya Hoshino. Cool as a cucumber

Ewen Ferguson. Proven winner

Adrian Otaegui. Looking to emulate Jorge Campillo

Dylan Frittelli. Full of confidence

Five Outsiders to Watch:

Ashun Wu. Has shown recent flashes of form

Oliver Wilson. Hard to know what you are going get with Wilson

Marcus Armitage. A man in need of a good week

Justin Harding. Has lost his way somewhat

Freddy Schott. Excellent German golfer

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Tags: Golf Previews european tour dp world tour

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