Italy’s Edoardo Molinari will hope to follow in the footsteps of fellow European, Sweden’s Johan Axgren, when he lines up in the field for this week’s Tusker Kenya Open at the Karen Golf Club in Nairobi, the sixth counting event towards the 2007 Challenge Tour Rankings.
Last season Axgren triumphed in the Kai Fieberg Costa Rica Open before going on to win the Tusker Kenya Open a month later, two wins which virtually assured him one of the top 20 places on the Rankings at the end of the season and with it a European Tour card for 2007.
Now Molinari will be looking to take a similar route. A month ago, the winner of the 2005 US Amateur Championship, claimed his first professional victory when he also triumphed in Latin America, winning the Club Colombia Masters. If he can taste victory in Kenya too, he will be well on his way to joining brother Francesco, winner of the
2006 Telecom Italia Open, on The European Tour full-time in 2008.
Fourth placed Molinari is the highest ranked Challenge Tour player in a field which also features another of the tournament winners already this season, Welshman Jamie Donaldson, who will be aiming for back-to- back successes after claiming the Abierto Telefonica de Guatemala on the Challenge Tour’s last outing three weeks ago.
Molinari and Donaldson headline a strong field which features five of the current top ten in the Rankings in total, the duo joined by the Argentine trio of Hernan Rey (seventh), Rodolfo Gonzalez (eighth) and Juan Abbate (tenth).
The Tusker Kenya Open is one of the most enduring tournaments in Challenge Tour history, having only missed one year since its first inclusion in 1991. It also featured on the Safari Tour in the past with former winners including European Tour champions Trevor Immelman and Maarten Lafeber.
Considered by many to be one of the most scenic courses in Kenya because of its profusion of flowering trees and bushes, Karen Country Club is on the farm of renowned Danish author Karen Blixen – most famous for her book Out of Africa – and is indeed close to her former residence which is now a museum dedicated to her life.