An analysis of the leaderboard of the past Kenya Open tournaments reveals a very interesting trend; the score posted by winners has been improving over the years signaling an improvement in the quality of the field coupled with the accruing benefits from advancement in technology.
The average gross winning score stands at 13.7 over the last five years an improvement of one stroke over the 12.7 average for the two decades since the year 2000. So if the trends continues at this year’s Kenya Open, the winner will no doubt card a red double-digit score.
It is this daunting statistics that local pros will be seeking to better at Karen this week in their quest to clinch the title for the first time. Over the 20-year period, Greg Snow boasts of the best gross score returned by a local player having carded -6 in 2014 to finish T10. Dismas Indiza has managed a -5 score on two occasions- while Simon Ngige did the country proud posting -2 in 2019 to finish a high T25.
Granted the improved quality of the field since Kenya Open graduated to a European Tour event in 2019, the local players will have to push themselves harder to enter the red double-digit zone to have a realistic chance of winning the Magical Kenya and Savannah classic double-header.
A quick glance at the past performance shows that winners may soon shatter the -19 ceiling set in 2002 by Englishman Lee James at Muthaiga. Other eye-catching performance include Sebastien Soderberg’s -18 score in 2016, Aaron Rai’s -17 return in 2017 and -17 by South African Hyden Porteous in 2015.
Interestingly, Kenya Open has also been won with relatively high scores. The history-setting inaugural tournament in 1965 was won by Maurice Bambridge who carded +5. This was to be followed by identical -1 scores posted by Ernie Jones and Liam Huggins in 1971 and 1977 respectively. Other notable high scoring tournaments include another identical -6 feats by Garry Harvey in 1985 and Edoardo Molinari in 2007.
The highest gross winning score over the last 20 years stands at -10, recorded by Benson Seve and Roos Jake in 2012 and 2016 respectively.
As the Latin proverb goes; to be forewarned is to be forearmed. The 13 local professionals and six amateurs who are shaping up for the Karen mission have their work well cut out for them in the next two weeks. Nothing short of consistent under par rounds will triumph.
KENYA OPEN EXCEPTIONAL WINNING SCORES
1999 Martin Lafebar -19
2002 James Lee -19
2016 Sebastien Soderberg -18
2017 Aaron Rai -17
2015 Hyden Porteous -17
2019 Guido Migliozzi -16
1991 Jeremy Robinson -15
2000 Trevor Imelman -14
2011 Michiel Bothma -14
2009 Gary Boyd -13