Darren Fichardt will reach a notable milestone on his home continent as the South African makes his 400th European Tour appearance at the Magical Kenya Open presented by Johnnie Walker, on the back of a runner-up finish at last week’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
The 45-year-old, playing his first event of 2021 in Doha last week, led the field heading into the final round but missed out as Frenchman Antoine Rozner holed a monster putt on the final hole to claim the title.
Fichardt was happy to be back in the mix again and the five-time European Tour winner is looking forward to enjoying his milestone appearance this week in his first ever visit to Kenya.
“To have played 400 events is crazy,” said Fichardt. “I don’t feel old at all! To play that many events out here, I’m pretty blessed to be out here that long, to play so many events, and for the European Tour to be such a huge part of my life. It’s been a great journey so far and I’m looking forward to the next 400.
“It’s awesome here. I haven’t been to Kenya, it’s my first time. It’s very African, when we got off the plane onto the bus, African music was playing. It’s amazing and people here are so friendly, it feels awesome to be here.
"The golf course looks quite tight, looks like the greens are pretty small and quite slopey, so your iron play is going to be sharp and if you miss the green you’re going to be using your lob wedge a lot – I don’t think there will be too many bump and runs on these greens. The vegetation is quite dense so if you miss the fairways I think you’re going to be in quite a lot of trouble.”
The 18-time Sunshine Tour winner worked hard during the winter and was glad to see it pay off last week. Having eased into his swing upon his return to action, he is feeling much more comfortable heading into the first of two back-to-back events in Kenya.
“November was the last time I played, at the SA Open,” he said. “I had many options to sit around and wait for the tournaments or get stuck into some TPI training and do some hard work on the things that weren’t that great during the events back home.
"I did a bit of work and I didn’t know what to expect this year – I came out with lots of swing thoughts and a lot of little fiddly things with my chipping. Through my first nine at Qatar I felt very uneasy, didn’t feel comfortable, and then everything clicked.
"The second round my swing started coming right and by the third round everything was good. I struggled a bit on the final round but it was still good to shoot level in those conditions, having not been in competitive golf for so long, I was quite happy with the result. It was good and that’s why I’m happy to be out here playing two in a row.
“You try not to get the expectations too high and put too much pressure on yourself, just go out there and play one shot at a time and do the best I can do and see where it gets me. Everything is pretty much there so just don’t put too much pressure on myself to perform and it should be good.”