Thursday, 18 March 2004
Titch Moore of South Africa struck a stunning seven under par 63 to take control of the Kenya Open at the Karen Golf Club, Nairobi, Kenya.

Moore, 28, a winner on the 2003 Challenge Tour after his victory in last season’s Skandia PGA Open collected nine birdies and two bogeys to establish a one shot lead over his fellow countryman, Ryan Reid.

Marc Cayeux of Zimbabwe and Englishman Paul Dwyer are on fiver under, with Scotsman Greig Hutcheon and Italy’s Marco Soffietti a further two shots back.

Moore has just finished playing on the Sunshine Tour in his homeland where he finished in fifth place on the money list. Now he is hoping to transfer that form to the Challenge Tour Rankings.

“I did well on the Sunshine Tour over the winter,” said Moore after his 63 at the 6901 yard, par 70 Karen Golf Club. “Hopefully I can keep that going on the Challenge Tour and get into the top 15 this year.

“It was a funny round today,” he continued. “I three putted three times, but then single putted ten greens and I did have that feeling that I could sink anything I looked at one point.

“Putting will be the key to winning this week because the course is quite short, so it was nice to see some putts dropping early in the week.”

Hutcheon began in confident mood, carding a first round 67 – and he admitted afterwards that the European Challenge Tour players are aiming a glance towards their first “Major” of the season.

The 31 year old from Aberdeen sees the Kenya Open as the perfect place to prepare for next weekend’s Madeira Island Open – one of the biggest events of the year for many Challenge Tour players, who get the chance to pit their wits against some of the continent's top players from The European Tour.

Hutcheon feels his game is starting to redefine itself after a long, barren winter in Aberdeen, and, after visits to Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Zambia already this season, he is hoping to continue his improvement in Kenya, with a view to hitting top form in Madiera.

“I played well today,” he said of his opening 67. “There were three or four putts that, had they gone in, would have given me a really low score, but I’m happy with my start.

“I’ve been getting on very well with my new driver and that has helped me this week. I feel that my game is coming good at the right time.

“The start of the season in Central America – and then the last two weeks in Africa – have been long weeks, but I think over the course of the season they will prove to be of benefit to my game. I’m already feeling better for having played in those events.

“It would be nice to stay near the top of the leaderboard this week and take some confidence to Madeira because that is a massive event for the guys out here on the Challenge Tour.

“The Madeira Island Open, and the dual ranking events are like the Majors to the Challenge Tour players. The prize money is generally a lot higher than we usually play for and if you win then you go straight onto The European Tour – which is where we all want to be.”

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