Unerring accuracy off the tee and a hot putter helped Argentina’s Daniel Barbetti secure a two shot lead after day one of the Tusker Kenya Open.
Despite blustery conditions at Nairobi’s Karen Country Club, Barbetti posted a six under par round of 65, which saw him finish the day two shots clear of the Scottish duo of Scott Henderson and Greig Hutcheon.
Having never before broken par or made the cut on two previous visits to the Tusker Kenya Open, Barbetti was determined to master the 6,984 yards course and he duly set about his task with some relish by birdieing his opening two holes.
Another birdie at the fifth hole was cancelled out by his solitary bogey at the sixth, but by picking up a further four shots on the back nine he guaranteed his place at the top of the leaderboard.
Barbetti, whose highest Challenge Tour finish and biggest prize to date came at the 2006 VIP Abierto Mexicano, said: “I drove the ball very nicely today, and also putted well. I made a lot of good putts, particularly for birdie on the 14th. I have played here for the past two years but haven’t got a great record, so I hope to change that this year. But there is still a long way to go.”
If Barbetti’s progress was spectacular, Henderson’s was steady until, on the 13th hole, the Scot registered his first birdie of the day. Another one on the 14th hole and a stunning eagle on the par five 18th catapulted the 38 year old into contention.
Henderson was joined in a tie for second on four under par by compatriot Hutcheon, who is seeking his fourth Challenge Tour title.
The Scot, who celebrates his 35th birthday at the end of the month, was four under par through seven holes after an early birdie blitz, but a bogey on the 17th – his eighth hole – halted his momentum.
Henderson and Hutcheon were trailed by a trio of players on three under par: Spain’s Carlos Del Moral, Kenya’s Dismas Indiza, and Sweden’s Fredrik Widmark.