Slow start for Purcell on rare DP World Tour start in Kenya

Mark McGowan

Conor Purcell (Photo by Johan Rynners/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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Conor Purcell has his work cut out to make the cut in the DP World Tour’s Magical Kenya Open after an opening three-over 75 that leaves him well down the field in a tie for 106th.

The Portmarnock man birdied three but bogeyed six holes on a day where scoring proved tough and just one player got to five-under. With the provisional cutline falling at level par, he’ll need to shoot at least -3 to have a realistic chance of seeing weekend action, but as one of the early starters in Friday’s second round, he’ll get the best of the scoring conditions.

Darius van Driel was the man who made it to the clubhouse at -5. The Dutchman, making his seventh appearance in Kenya’s national open, quickly reached three under with a trio of consecutive birdies from the second hole and then eagled the par five tenth hole to move to five under after making the turn at Muthaiga Golf Club.

He then recovered from dropped shots on the 11th and 13th holes with birdies on the 16th and 18th to hold a one-stroke lead ahead of a clutch of competitors on four under.

South African Ryan van Velzen is among those in a share of second place, as he continues his excellent form at the start of 2024. The 23-year-old won the Mediclinic Invitational on the Sunshine Tour in January and then finished runner-up at the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open earlier this month.

Joining him on four under par are van Driel’s compatriot Daan Huizing, Frederic Lacroix of France, Finland’s Tapio Pulkkanen, German Yannick Schuetz and Scotsman Connor Syme.

Leading the home charge are Njoroge Kibugu and Greg Snow who carded level par rounds of 71. Kibugu made the cut at this event as an amateur in 2022, while Snow is hoping to make the weekend for the first time in 16 attempts.

“It was pretty solid,” van Driel said. “Hit a lot of fairways, which you need to do here or you make it very hard for yourself. I holed some nice putts, it went exactly how I wanted to play, so I’m happy.

“I see this course more as a links course, fiddly with the altitude and the heat. There’s a bit of scraping it around, I kind of like that golf.

“I have a little bit of a cough, so it’s not ideal for me with the heat and the altitude, but I managed to get through.”


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