A remarkably consistent day if you were an Irishman at the Magical Kenya Open on the DP World Tour as four of the five players in action all opened the tournament with one-under-par 70s in their first rounds.
All four of Paul Dunne, Gavin Moynihan, Niall Kearney and Cormac Sharvin ended one stroke under-par after their opening day to sit in a share of 40th, with Jonathan Caldwell the only exception after a tough day saw him sign for a 76.
The quartet may be content with their rounds but they are already six shots back of leader Daniel Gavins, the ISPS HANDA World Invitational champion a stroke clear of Johannes Veerman and Shubhankar Sharma after a seven-under 64 on day one.
The 30-year-old Englishman, who started at the 10th, was one-over after the first six holes of his round but turned things around with a remarkable stretch of golf that saw him birdie nine of his final 12 holes and set the clubhouse mark at Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi.
He signed it off with a bizarre ninth hole which saw his approach hit the pin and spin back to 70-feet away from the hole – only to drain the putt and take a one-shot advantage early doors.
“It was pretty rusty to start with, I hadn’t played for a couple of weeks but I just started holing a few putts,” explained Gavins.
“My second shot at the ninth hit the flag and it knocked it 60 or 70 feet back down the green. Obviously I holed the 70-footer which was a bit surprising but it was nice to finish with a birdie.
“My swing has been a bit off at the start of the year and I’ve been struggling a little bit with finding the feeling really, but today I felt a few things that were nice and it was positive.
“It was a long stretch at the start of the year so it was nice to put the clubs away for five days and go to New York. It was pretty cold but it was nice. The weather is always great here and I don’t like spending too much time in the cold, so it’s nice to be out here.”
Veerman eagled his opening hole, the 10th, and would add five birdies after that, but a bogey on his penultimate hole, the eighth, cost him a share of the lead; meanwhile, Sharma carded six birdies in a bogey-free 65 that has him one back, too.
Further down the leaderboard and it was take your pick of Irish players at one-under as four of the five hopefuls all struck 70.
Royal Dublin’s Kearney was particularly impressive as he had to battle back from a double bogey, bogey start that had him three-over after two, carding five birdies – including two in his last three holes – and one bogey to get back under-par.
Sharvin, too, had a double on his card when he dropped two shots at the par-five seventh, but he was two-under thru 10 thanks to four birdies, however the Ardglass man would fall back to one-under with a bogey at the 14th, while Dublin’s Moynihan will rue a bogey on the closing par-five 18th that dropped him back to that mark, too.
Greystones man Dunne had the opposite finish, birdieing the final hole to get to one-under after a round that, up to that point, included three birdies and as many bogeys.
It was a rough day for Caldwell, though, the Clandeboye man bogeying seven holes – including four of his last seven – and finding just two birdies on his way to a five-over 76 that has him 124th after the opening round.