The European Tour’s Race to Dubai continues this week at the Magical Kenya Open. The event returns to Karen Country Club for the first time since Guido Migliozzi triumphed to win his first Tour title in 2019. But who will be crowned champion this week, and who should you have in your Fantasy team?
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Kurt Kitayama headlines the field as this week's favourite following a top 10 at last week's Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. It follows a recent trend of consistent results for the American at the start of 2021 that also includes a tie for 35th at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, a tie for 20th at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and a tie for 12th at the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers.
Kitayama, who became the fastest player to two wins in European Tour history in 2019, led the field in SG: Tee to green last week and ranked 4th for Strokes Gained: Approach - factors which could prove to be a real key around this week's tree-lined course. The only real question mark is that this is Kitayama's first appearance in Kenya, but given his recent form, its understandable that to expect the World Number 125 could be a real contender this week.
Guido Migliozzi arrives at Karen Country Club to defend the title he won in 2019 after last year’s edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Italian, who broke through for his maiden victory here in just his 14th event on the European Tour, went head-to-head with playing partner Adri Arnaus two years ago and held off a chasing pack that included Justin Harding, Louis De Jager, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Kalle Samooja – who all held a share of the lead during a thrilling final day.
Migliozzi, who went on to win the Belgian Knockout later that season, is searching for his first victory since 2019 – and arrives in Kenya hoping to build on last week’s runner-up finish at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. The Italian, who was one of just four players to go bogey-free in the final round, posted a six-under 65 to finish one shot behind last week’s champion Antoine Rozner.
Although last week's runner-up finish was Migliozzi's first top 10 since a tie for sixth at the Estrella Damn N.A Andalucia Masters last September, his form last week continued a recent upward trend that makes him a likely contender in Kenya once again: He finished in a tie for 44th at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic before a tie for 33rd at the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisors.
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The South African has a strong record in co sanctioned events, 4/5 European Tour wins have been in Africa. Last week was tough, having been leading through 15 holes he missed the cut. I’d put this down to luck of the draw rather than the shape of his game. Coetzee was 17th in the 2019 Kenya Open played at Karen Country Club, this course form, being comfortable at altitude (born in Pretoria) and the time of year puts George into my team,
A Challenge Tour class of 2018 graduate, many of his peers (Perez, MacIntyre, Law etc) have won on the European Tour but he hasn’t. A 4th in Omega Dubai Desert Classic shows a positive sign to try and change this fact. His Challenge Tour win came at the warm and windy island of Hainan, very similar to the Nairobi climate. The Finn has recorded a top 10 at Karen CC in 2019 and has the skills to play this precision lay out by ranking 21st in approach play for 2021.
The Austrian is 2nd in driving accuracy this year and was 6th in strokes gained approach for 2020. All very good signs for the tight, short venue of the Magical Kenya Open. He has performed well in Africa finishing 14th in the South African Open and 13th in the Alfred Dunhill Championships 2020. Matthias is reunited with his caddy James Baker having missed out on Qatar with visa issues. I’m hoping the team being back together makes this week a good one for Schwab.
The American is trending brilliantly, with progressively better finishes of T35-T20-T12-T9 in his four starts this year. He’s one of the longest hitters on Tour so I’m hoping he can hit a few shorter clubs off tees for position on this tree-lined layout. He’s inside the top 20 in ‘strokes gained – approach’ this season so his iron play should yield birdie chances.
The defending champion from 2019 is coming into this week off the back of a closing 65 to finish tied-2nd at the Qatar Masters. The two-time winner is always dangerous in this kind of field, relishes the limelight and seems to produce his best golf when in contention. The fact his last top-10 before last week was at a tricky Valderrama adds to my confidence.
A man who has eight worldwide wins and has hit the winning shot in a Ryder Cup is always going to draw attention – and his form and profile make him even more attractive this week. He has five top-10s in his last 13 starts, including T5 last week, and sits 1st in driving accuracy and 13th in greens in regulation so far this season.