HP has all the right ingredients in Kenya

14/02/2013 16:33:53
HP Bacher (Phil Inglis) ()
HP Bacher (Phil Inglis) ()
HP Bacher made a flying start to the Barclays Kenya Open as an eagle and a birdie in the opening three holes helped him to a five under par 66 and the first round lead at Karen Country Club, outside Nairobi.

The Austrian almost negotiated the opening three holes in four under par as a birdie putt at the first hole just slid past the cup before he chipped in from 35 feet for an eagle at the second and carded a birdie at the third.

A bogey at the ninth hole meant he reached the turn in two under but a gained shot at the par four 11th, followed by birdies at the back nine’s two par fives - the 15th and 18th - elevated him to the top of the leaderboard.

“The chip-in really got me going,” said the 26 year old. “It was great because I imagined the shot and it went exactly as I imagined it so that was really nice.

“I had some good chances at the turn but didn’t take advantage of them and then made a three putt from the front of the green at the ninth.

“I'm really happy with my round though and I can see that I’m getting better and better. I just played really well and it was fun out there.”

Bacher played his rookie season on The European Tour last year but returned to the Challenge Tour midway through the 2012 campaign before a runner-up finish at the lucrative Kazakhstan Open sealed his card on the second tier for 2013.

While disappointed not to secure a European Tour card for this year, Bacher believes it could prove a blessing in disguise.

“It really makes things easier for me this year having a full schedule to plan,” said Bacher, who was a single handicapper by the age of 11. “I missed out on a European Tour card by three Rankings places which wasn’t great but then I figured, this gives me the chance to really focus on the Challenge Tour and be able to create a tournament plan for the season.

“Now I’m in a good position. I can play the Pro-Ams and arrive on Monday so it’s much better, it gives me a good chance to get a top ten and get a good card for The European Tour next year.”

Tom Murray of England, Spain’s Adrian Otaegui and Raymond Russell of Scotland were all tied for second place on four under par while the leading Kenyan was Greg Snow in tied fifth on three under par.

Otaegui, who is mentored by 2012 European Ryder Cup Captain José-María Olazábal, made a superb comeback after he was two down through seven, with a monster putt at the eighth giving his round lift off before three more birdies and an eagle at the par five 15th moved him into contention.

“I didn’t start very well but I just tried to stay calm,” said the 20 year old. “I played well then and didn’t miss much.

“It was a really good round for the beginning of the year. I just had to keep calm and keep playing and I was delighted to play well in the back nine. It’s just the first round but I will just try to play well and we’ll see at the end of the week.”