After a week’s hiatus, the DP World Tour returns with the Magical Kenya Open at Nairobi’s Muthaiga Golf Club, where the field will compete for a $2 million purse.
Tom McKibbin, Gary Hurley and John Murphy are set to tee it up in East-Africa, with varying hopes and expectations.
Challenge Tour graduate McKibbin has made a solid start to his rookie season, and despite heart-breaking missed cuts at the two Middle Eastern Rolex Series events, had a good opportunity to get his first DP World Tour victory in Singapore a month ago before ultimately finishing tied 12th.
Since then, he’s split with experienced caddie Chris Selfridge and missed the cut in his one appearance since, but with a relatively weak field to compete with this week, it’s a good opportunity for the Holywood man to secure his playing privileges and move a step closer to securing his position in the top 60 of the Race to Dubai rankings.
Having earned his playing rights through DP World Tour Q-School, Hurley made a promising start to his big-tour campaign, making the cut in his first three events with a best finish of T14. Since the turn of the year, however, three missed cuts in four starts are cause for concern and he currently lies 130th on the Race to Dubai.
With any DP World Tour members inside the top-50 in the world rankings playing in The Players Championship at Sawgrass, and many others opting not to travel to Kenya, it’s the kind of field that Hurley needs to take advantage of and get back on track.
Murphy, a Q-School graduate like Hurley, has found the going tough on the DP World Tour, missing eight consecutive cuts, but there is still plenty of time to turn the season around and Muthaiga may be the ideal place to do so.
A rather quirky course, the elevated setting means that the course plays considerably shorter than its 7,222 yards with a par of 71. Located just below the equator, there is a stark contrast between temperatures in early morning and high noon, and there is lush vegetation aplenty and no shortage of water hazards.
Joining the three Irish in the field are defending champion from China Ashen Wu, former Ryder Cup stars Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Stephen Gallagher, Scottish sensation and Ryder Cup hopeful Robert MacIntyre, and recent Hero Indian Open champion Marcel Siem.
McKibbin will go off the 10th tee at 07:20 am in the company of South Africans Oliver Bekker and Dylan Mostert, with Murphy following four groups behind alongside England’s Tom Lewis and Frenchman Adrien Saddier at 08:00.
Hurley goes off in the afternoon wave and he’s in the third-to-last group off the first, grouped with Wales’ Oliver Farr and Englishman Pavan Sagoo at 13:50.
Local time is three hours ahead of Irish time.
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