The European Tour visits East Africa for the first edition of the Magical Kenya Open presented by Absa. Here are five things you need to know ahead of the tournament’s debut on the 2019 Race to Dubai.
Although the 2019 Magical Kenya Open will be the first time it appears on the International Schedule, 2018 marked the event’s 50th anniversary. Starting in 1967, past winners include Seve Ballesteros and Ian Woosnam before the event formed part of the European Challenge Tour schedule in 1991. A different winner has been crowned at the Kenya Open in each of the 26 editions since 1991, including future Masters Tournament Champion Trevor Immelman, who triumphed at Muthaiga Golf Club in 2000.
From Challenge Tour to European Tour
Italian Lorenzo Gagli could make history in Kenya this week. Should he defend his title which he won on the Challenge Tour circuit last year, he will become the first man to mount a successful defence, therefore becoming the first two time winner of the Kenya Open since its debut on the Challenge Tour circuit in 1991.
Karen Country Club
Karen Country Club in Nairobi will have the honour of hosting the Magical Kenya Open’s debut as a European Tour event. The venue played host to the event on nine occasions on the Challenge Tour, but this will be the first time since 2016. Winners of the event at Karen Country Club include Haydn Porteous and Sebastian Soderberg, who are both in the field this week, and Edoardo Molinari, who triumphed in 2007.
The man in red
The Green Jacket donned by the winner of the Masters Tournament at Augusta National is undoubtedly the most famous jacket in golf, but Kenya ramped up the fashion stakes by introducing a red jacket for last year’s Kenya Open. For the first time ever, the winner of the Kenya Open – Gagli – received a locally-designed jacket in honour of his victory in East Africa. Designed by Kenyan fashion designer Nick Ondu of Nick Ondu Sartorial, the jacket is red in colour and has bespoke features on the back and arms. The jacket was introduced as part of the Kenya Open’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
Internet sensation Ho-sung Choi will tee it up at the Magical Kenya Open as he brings his unorthodox swing to a European Tour event this week. The South Korean became a viral sensation after footage of his “fisherman’s swing” was widely shared on social media. The 45-year-old taught himself to play golf after reading about the game in magazines and his unique approach has seen him collect three worldwide titles, including the Casio World open in Japan last year. Keep an eye out for Choi’s one-of-a-kind swing this week, particularly his follow through where he lifts his right foot off the ground and swings it around his body before using one of several different finishing moves.