In the absence of season-opening winner in the 2013 European Challenge Tour, India’s Shiv Kapur, the focus in this week’s Barclays Kenya Open championship shifts to Scotland’s Andrew Mcarthur.
One of the many players who have been criss-crossing between the European and the Challenge Tours, Mcarthur took an early lead during the Gujarat Kensville Challenge in Ahmedabad India with rounds of 67 and 69 until Kapur produced a record breaking card of 65.
The score helped him take the title on 14 under par 274, leaving Mcarthur in second place on 12 under par 276 despite closing with a 69.
Mcarthur is one of the most experienced players in the field of 150 professionals who will be teeing off at the par 71 Karen Country Club this morning as they chase the top prize of 30,400 Euros plus a possible chance to return to the European Tour where he last featured in 2010.
And Mcarthur has a perfect chance of a victory if he can transfer his Gujarat Kensville Challenge form to Karen. The Asian course was probably tougher than the Karen one.
Mcarthur from Glasgow, will have to reckon with the challenge of the home players together with touring pros like Argentina’s Daniel Vancsik, who is hoping his return to Karen, the venue of his last Challenge Tour victory in 2005, will spur him to another glory in the 2013 Barclays Kenya Open. Good condition
Like McCarthur, Vancsik was also in India for the first Challenge Tour event this season though a final round 75 which followed a 67, saw him finish on two under par 286 at 15th place.
He says the course at Karen is in a good condition and probably fairly easier that in 2005 when he carried the open title. Other big names from the Challenge Tour who are hoping to make their way back to the main European Tour this year include England’s Philip Archer, a regular visitor at the Open.
He finished third in India despite a slow start. On the other hand, Welshman Rhys Davies did not play well in India after a poor third round 79, for a nine over par and a 55th place finish. Davies is a winner of one Challenge and European Tour events.
Mcarthur is drawn to play in the morning from 8am in the company of local Anil Shah and Swaziland’s Arthur Horne behind the flight of Vancsik while Davies will be teeing off from 12.30pm in the flight of Kenya’s Jacob Okello, who lost the title after coming second best in a play-off to Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalez in the 1998 championship.
Also in that team will be America’s Peter Uihlein who is making a debut in the Open.
A former amateur champion in the USA, Uihlein has been playing well lately though like vancsik, shot a 75 in India to finish in 18th place.
A victory for him will be his first in the Challenge Tour and may propell him to the main European Tour. Most of the past winners of the Open have always landed into the main tour and beyond.
Completing a full field of 156 players are six Kenyan amateurs who like the professionals, will have to make the second round cut to proceed to the final round.
The six are Justus Madoya from the Great Rift Valley Resort who is the current amateur strokeplay champion, Golf Park’s Tony Omuli who won last year’s amateur matchplay championship.
Others are Nelson Simwa and Mathew Omondi of Vet Lab, Royal Nairobi’s Jay Sandhu and former national team captain Francis Kimani of Limuru who is not new in the open.
Today’s opening round as well as the second round tomorrow will start at 7am from both first and 10th tees.