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It is a shame that the DP World Tour returns opposite The Players Championship, for the Magical Kenya Open deserves more than the scant attention it will receive this week.

During the early days of the event, Muthaiga Golf Club held the vast majority of events before sharing duties with near neighbour Karen GC, with both courses sharing a similar trend of solid iron play from players thriving at the likes of Crans, Joburg and Valderrama, though this week’s host is fancied to be the tighter of the two.

Certainly a look at recent winners finds the names Aaron Rai, Lorenzo Gagli and Ashun Wu pushing us well away from driving and more to what happens from the approach to the ball dropping – be tidy, hit the greens and give yourself a chance – and scores of level-4s (16-under total) should be right there come Sunday night.


Adri Arnaus to win

Best Bet - Adri Arnaus

There is an awful lot of dead wood in this event, meaning less than a third of the field can be truly fancied to win.

In Arnaus, we have a player that has the right form coming into this event, having recorded one victory and seven top-10s since the start of the 2022 season, the victory coming from well off-the-pace at his home Catalunya Championship to win a play-off against subsequent Di-Data champion Oliver Bekker, a player with a brace of top-10s and top-20s from five starts at Muthaiga.

That sole DPWT victory came six weeks after a run of form of 3rd at Saudi where he led at halfway, 9th at Ras Al Khaimah (led into Sunday), a fast-finishing 8th around here (a third-round 71 ruining his chance) and a loss in a three-way playoff at Pecanwood.

If that ‘area’ form isn’t enough, the correlative form does it for me.

Joburg has offered little in two starts, but better are two top-10 finishes from three starts at Crans, and a tied runner-up (with Jon Rahm) in a high-class Andalucía Masters.

I’ll take the runner-up behind Guido Migliozzi at Karen in 2019, especially as he finished tied with Justin Harding, who won a year later and should have gone back-to-back after leading the Savannah Classic for three rounds.

After finishing 2022 with a top-10 at the DP World Tour Championship, the 28-year-old has made two cuts from four starts this year. The missed weekends are easy to forgive, with Abu being his first outing in two months, whilst the latest in Singapore was his first sighting of a rarely used track.

In between, Arnaus was in fourth place at the third round stage of the Dubai Desert Classic before finishing 13th, form that links him with last year’s winner Asun Wu and 2018 champ Lorenzo Gagli, and 6th at Ras Al Khaimah.

That’s enough already to believe he repeats form at tracks, and he can follow compatriots Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Canizares into the winners’ circle.

Jorge Campillo - Each Way
Shubhankar Sharma - Each Way
Marcus Kinhult - Each Way

Dangers - Jorge Campillo, Shubhankar Sharma and Marcus Kinhult

Another Arnaus countryman up next in Campillo, who bounced back to form with a fourth place at the Indian Open at the end of February and may go on one of his mercurial runs. He’s Spanish,what else is he going to be?

Clearly at home when it’s a test of quality ball control, his victories in Morocco and Qatar read well, particularly as last year’s winner of the latter, Ewen Ferguson, was clear here before fading late on. His runner-up at the Maybank, one of two top five finishes, splits Shubhankar Sharma (13th here, in 2022) and a similar player in Pablo Larrazabal, whilst one of 2022’s better efforts was a top five finish at Crans, backed up with a top-10 at the Marco Simone, scene of this year’s Ryder Cup.

The 36-year-old is, of course, a long way from making the European team, but this clearly nowhere near that standard and he can build on his two outings at Muthaiga, a 30th on debut followed by last season’s 13th place, when five straight birdies on ‘Moving Day’ shot him up from 27th to fourth place at halfway.

Sharma became a tempting wager as soon as I started looking deeper into Campillo, being very much in the Aaron Rai mould (2017 version), and who’s fast-finishing 13th in his home Open backs up a recent 12th at the Saudi International and a seasonal opening 7th in Abu Dhabi.

Previous to that, the 26-year-old had finished in the top three at the tough Gary Player course, starting a mini-run of top-20 rankings for approaches.

His win in Malaysia is covered above, and his only other main tour victory, at the Joburg Open, came via a three shot margin over Erik Van Rooyen, himself runner-up in Joburg, Qatar and Morocco.

There are certain players that come to mind when thinking of short, tree-lined courses and the tidy Indian star is always one.

Marcus Kinhult, the same age as Sharma, has a reputation that has, so far, been greater than his accomplishments on the main stage.

A star amateur, he finished 3rd in his debut at the Qatar Masters, subsequently followed by a seventh and third place at each of the two used courses, and finished top five at Le Golf National, another testing course that is affected by wind.

He finally got over the line at Hillside in 2019, before shooting the best round of the Sunday at the 2019 U.S Open at Pebble Beach. A year later he banked top-10 finishes in the Scottish Open and at Wentworth, quality back-ups to the Qatar effort.

Recovering from a spell of epilepsy,the Swede returned to the course and dropped down a level to finish ninth and first in a pair of Nordic League events, before going on a run of 8th here and 3rd at Qatar.

The top-10 around this course in 2022 disguises his chance after day three, when only Ferguson was in front of him, but he has since proved he is strong in a finish at Hillside (15th to third) Valderrama (101st after day one, finished 6th) and 8th at the Dubai Desert Classic.

Although he missed the weekend in Singapore and on his first return to the NGL, Kinhult has since finished 11th and 8th on the development level. That is nothing special but certainly looks a very similar approach to his 2022 season, and he looks as if he can continue a progressive course profile of 12th and 8th, even if they are five years apart.

Daniel Van Tonder - Each Way

Outsider - Daniel Van Tonder

Selecting Daniel, previously Danie and maybe Dani, is a mainly price-based exercise, but there are legitimate reasons for thinking he is a big price at 80/1 and over.

The 31-year-old is a winner of seven events from 2019 to 2021, including a spell of four wins between August and October 2021. Most of the victories came on his home Sunshine Tour, and included his home Open, beating Oliver Bekker and the likes of 2021 Kenya Open winner Harding.

DVT finally crossed the line at the higher level when taking advantage of Harding’s collapse during the final round of the Savannah Classic, an effort that is under-valued despite his tap-in birdie at the last, and with a card littered with Joburg and Tshwane form-lines, it’s easy to work out where Van Tonder does his best work.

After four events away from home, and now returning to Kenya and South Africa for the next few weeks, expect the style of play that ranked him top five for approaches and tee-to-green in his two S.A events before the turn of the year.

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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