Four past winners will be in the field when the Magical Kenya Open 2022 edition tees off this week at Muthaiga. Justin Harding, Guido Migliozzi and Haydn Porteous will be chasing their second win in Kenya, a feat that has only been achieved by Maurice Bembridge. Savannah Classic 2021 champion Daniel van Tonder will also be in action.
The champions opened up on their love for Kenya and their game plan ahead of the eagerly anticipated four-day contest:
“It’s exciting, you don’t always get the opportunity to defend but I’ve always played quite nicely here in Kenya albeit on the other course in Karen. From what I’ve seen so far this week, this golf course at Muthaiga is beautiful, in good nick.
It’s different, you’ve got to work your way around it. It’s not straight-forward, but I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be nice, I’ve had a decent enough start to this year, my game’s in good place, so we’ll see what happens.
I love Kenya, for one the people are just super-friendly and hospitable. I think the crowds are always great, I’ve loved my time here. They’re very welcoming, they embrace the Kenya Open, it’s got a lot of rich history and it’s always a well-supported event. I haven’t had the opportunity to go on safari yet, so that’s still on the bucket list.
I’ve been playing pretty solid, just trying not to get off to bad starts early in the week and plod along and put yourself in a position to have a go over the weekend.
“I remember the emotion of the whole week; the whole week I was confident with my game. To win on the DP World Tour was an incredible feeling for me. Kenya has a part of my heart now. It’s a different world here, the people are so friendly and lovely, I just love coming here to play golf in the sun. It’s very cool.
I have matured. I want to win more. I’m working on it, I’m not that confident right now but I’m starting to get back to my game and last year I had a really good year. I had good positions at big tournaments so I’m right there. Maybe I have to go too deep into my mind to reflect on my game right now, but I just want to enjoy the game of golf, enjoy my rounds, be friendly to people and good things will happen.
The golf course is really good, it’s different from Karen. It’s windy now and the greens are small and the fairways are tight so it’s not easy to make the fairways and control the ball, with the altitude and wind, so it’s a good test for everybody. You can be aggressive, or defensive. It’s a great course because you have a lot of different ways to play the holes, it’s good.”
Daniel van Tonder
“The win here last year meant a lot. I had been knocking on the door for a while, having a co-sanctioned events back home where I came close, but it was special – my first win on the DP World Tour, having my wife on the bag and experience together. It was special.
It’s special here in Kenya, a different country and a different culture, but at the end of the day it feels like home – the atmosphere, the food and everything else. Kenya is a special place.
I started playing when I was young, like most professionals. But I was self-taught, for me it was just take the club back, take it through. So for me my swing feels normal, it’s like winding up a string. Being a boxer when I was young, doing the training teaches you to breathe and I just incorporated that with the golf so it just comes naturally.
That’s why you hear that little swish sound from me when I swing. A few years ago I went through a phase where I struggled a little bit, so I went to see three different coaches and every coach taught me something different, so I thought to myself, ‘if they’re right how am I able to hit a golf ball?’ So I just ended up trusting myself and going back to my roots and all the things I did before. I do it my way.
I’m going to hit the driver as many times as I can, make the course as short as possible and just make birdies!”