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Pick Details

Magical Kenya Open 3:00 AM | Sat, Mar 20 2021
Sport: European Tour | Star Rating: 4.0 Evaluation: Loss (-400)
100 (True) - Pre-Tournament Futures @ Multiple Sportsbook

After last week's stop-over in Qatar, this week the European Tour moves to Africa for a two-week stay in Kenya, at the Karen Country Club near Nairobi.

This week the venue plays host to the KENYA OPEN, and next week we'll have the Savannah Classic (again, played on the same course).

Now Kenya might be a relatively new destination on the main circuit, but it's been a standing dish on the satellite, Challenge Tour for a number of years.

Here's a preview of the action in East Africa...

The Tournament - this year's renewal is just the second time the Kenya Open has appeared on the full European Tour - even though it's been held every year since 1967. In fact, the rise to full tour status comes after the event graduated from the Challenge Tour schedule (the tier below the main tour) where it was held from 1991-2018. But the relentless growth of the European circuit, taking in the Middle East, Asia, Australia and South Africa, now sees it create another stop-over on its annual, global calendar. Given its location and timing on the schedule, it's unlikely to attract a top quality field, but it still should serve up a highly competitive tournament.

The Course - We're at Karen Country Club near the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Used several times for Challenge Tour events this 6,922 yard layout will play as a par 71. The course dates back to the 1930's and is named after Karen Blixen, a Danish pioneer. More recently it has been upgraded by David Jones and now features plenty of water and has tighter than usual fairways. But not long, and at altitude, it will present the players with good scoring opportunities.

72-Hole Record - 261, Maarten Lafeber (1999)

18-Hole Record - 64, Joel Stalter (2016)

Past Winners - Cancelled (2020), Guido Migliozzi (2019), Lorenzo Gagli (2018), Aaron Rai (2017), Sebastian Soderberg (2016).

The Field - A standard field with 156 players teeing it up this week. Kurt Kitayama is the +1800 market leader.

The Weather - Cloudy, but dry, for the first two days. Some rain is forecast (40%) for Saturday and Sunday. The temperature will reach the low 80s and the players will get some respite from the gentle breeze (10-12mph through the week). So, all in all, good playing conditions.

The Bets - There are four bets ranging from +4361 to +6000.


Here are the details...


Bet: 1* Outright + Top 10 (half unit each to win and to place)
Current Best To Win Odds: +5136
Current Best Top 10 Odds: +573

"Although we're not playing in South Africa this week, the feel of the event is very much one that could fit in well on the Sunshine Tour. Also, with a number of South Africans currently playing their domestic season, there's a good chance many of them will be more tournament-ready than a lot of their European counterparts. Higgo has played the past couple of weeks, registering Top 20's in South Africa and last time out in Qatar - where he would have been much higher but for shooting 77 in Round 3. Higgo is a bright prospect who, at just 21, has already won at home and on the European Tour - so clearly this is a player of some potential. His sole visit here in 2019 saw Higgo finish 5th, and even though the event is now a fully affiliated European Tour event, this week's field is lacking a lot of weight at the top of the market. Scoring well on my ratings, Higgo should be suited to conditions and, on the back of solid recent form, looks a decent each-way bet here this week."

Bet: 1* Outright + Top 10 (half unit each to win and to place)
Current Best To Win Odds: +4361
Current Best Top 10 Odds: +524

"Van Tonder has been around for some time, but, like a lot of his fellow countrymen have done, he's never quite made the jump from Sunshine Tour to European Tour. But now aged 29 the penny might finally have dropped, and a series of wins in his homeland can spur on this late developer into a full winner on tour. Van Tonder has played the Karen course a number of times and figures of 12-5-12-5 on four visits would confirm that the course suits his eye. With the quality of this field being modest, the chances are that Van Tonder can make his superior experience and good recent form (2nd in the SA Players Championship last week) tell in this week's tournament. I firmly believe that a winner rising in grade has more chance than a serial loser dropping in standard, and with this in mind an in-form Van Tonder, on a track where he thrives, can certainly challenge for a maiden European Tour win."

Bet: 1* Outright + Top 10 (half unit each to win and to place)
Current Best To Win Odds: +6000
Current Best Top 10 Odds: +500

"Having won his maiden title on the European Tour back in 2017, the Englishman's expected rise to the top of the game in Europe hasn't quite happened. During this time he's posted multiple Top 10 finishes, without ever getting back to the winners enclosure. But Smith comes out well on my ratings this week, and after a Top 20 in Qatar last time out, where his ball-striking looked sharp, I fancy him to benefit from the calmer waters of this less highly contested event. Tee-to-green his excellent game should be suited to this week's tree-lined track, and if he can brush up on his putting (which has often been the weakness in his game) then there's no reason why Smith can't feature here - on a course that he has played before, in his Challenge Tour days. He played very well at the PGA Championship at Wentworth, back in October, and at a similar venue I expect Smith to perform far better than his odds suggest."

Bet: 1* Outright + Top 10 (half unit each to win and to place)
Current Best To Win Odds: +6000
Current Best Top 10 Odds: +500

"De Jager is the third South African I'm backing this week, because while I respect the European contingent here in Kenya, I think the conditions will be better suited to players who have more experience in these kind of surroundings. De Jager, like Van Tonder, brings with him plenty of course form at Karen GC with a 2nd place in 2019 (when he led by four shots at halfway) the best of three Top 20's in three visits. Another player who has won well at home in South Africa, but hasn't managed to make the crossover to the main tour, De Jager's good driving and streaky putting will make him a danger if he gets in the zone this week. With conditions a plus, course form, and a generous price relative to the strength of the field, De Jager is another worth backing in a very open-looking contest."


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Star Rating is the number of units the handicapper is risking on the bet. Therefore, if the Star Rating is 7.0, it is a 7-unit pick. On plus odds picks, the handicapper is risking their Star Rating unit amount. On negative odds picks, the handicapper is betting enough to win their Star Rating unit amount.
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