Cormac Sharvin carded a one-under par opening round of 70 and trails Benjamin Hebert by six strokes after day one of the Magical Kenya Open.
The Ardglass professional signed for four birdies, a bogey and a double to sit in a share of 60th overnight, two shots better than compatriot Jonathan Caldwell who traded three birdies and four bogeys in a one-over 72. Completing the Irish trio was Gavin Moynihan who struggled on the opening day, carding four bogeys and two doubles in a six-over par round of 77 in his first performance of the New Year.
At the top, Hebert birdied the final hole late in the day to steal the first round lead at the Magical Kenya Open presented by Johnnie Walker, the Frenchman carding a seven-under par round of 64 to take a one-stroke advantage ahead of a packed leaderboard at Karen Country Club.
The 34-year-old is a six-time winner on the Challenge Tour but has yet to claim a maiden European Tour title despite a number of agonisingly close calls, resulting in three runner-up finishes during the 2019 Race to Dubai.
Hebert, who has twice played at Karen Country Club during his time on the Challenge Tour, got off to a shaky start in Nairobi as he bogeyed the first – but six birdies, including at the 18th and an eagle at the par five 12th earned him a narrow lead.
“It was a fantastic day,” said Hebert. “I played very solid all day long. It’s been a long time since it has been like this. We managed the distance control, because it’s very hard here with the wind and altitude. We weren’t too aggressive and a holed some good putts also. It was a good day.
“In the morning you have to take out ten percent and in the afternoon it’s closer to 15 – that’s what we played. And I think we did pretty well.
“Twelve is a short par five, so you always expect to have at least a birdie. I hit three wood then seven iron, a little bit long and holed a 15-foot putt. It was good but I played well all day, so I’m very happy. My strategy worked well. I didn’t play too aggressive or hit many drivers. In the morning it’ll be a little bit wetter, so maybe we can be more aggressive with the pins, we’ll see tomorrow.”
Seven players shared second place after the opening round on six under par, including Englishman Sam Horsfield – a two-time winner in the 2020 campaign who is making his first start of the 2021 Race to Dubai after returning from a back injury.
Full scoring HERE