Nairobi — Aaron Rai is among five past winners bracing up for the Magical Kenya Open 2021 set to tee off at the Par 71 Karen County Club course from March 18 to 21.
The fabled Kenya Open will precede the Kenya Savannah Classic, which is a new event on the European Tour series.
Also, in the list of past winners of the Kenyan premier golfing event are Swede star Sebastian Soderberg (2016), Haydn Porteous of South Africa (2015) as well as Italian duo Lorenzo Gagli (2018) and Guido Migliozzi (2019).
Guido won the season-opening
Rai, who has Kenyan roots, joined the Challenge Tour after coming through the EuroPro Tour in 2016, securing his first victory the following season at the Barclays Kenya Open. That win had a special significance as his Kenya-born mother saw him triumph in her first visit to her home country for 47 years - Rai also lifted the title on what was Mothering Sunday in the UK.
Soderberg, who is attached to
Black Mountain GC has become a regular visitor in Kenya since his memorable win in 2016. He earned his first European Tour win in thrilling fashion, defeating Rory McIlroy, Kalle Samooja, Lorenzo Gagli and Andres Romero in a five-way play-off to win the 2019 Omega European Masters.
Soderberg's breakthrough win came at the Barclays Kenya Open in 2016, the same year the Swede qualified for the U.S. Open at Oakmont and came through Qualifying School to earn a debut season on the European Tour in 2017.
Like Soderberg, Haydn Porteous of South Africa has had a penchant for golfing in Kenya where he sealed a maiden Challenge Tour title as a sponsor's invite at the 2015 Barclays Kenya Open, beating his compatriot and friend Brandon Stone in a play-off. Stone will be in action in Kenya.
Brandon graduated from the Challenge Tour in 2015 and fulfilled his early promise when he made his European Tour breakthrough early in 2016, winning the BMW SA Open before adding a second title at the end of the year at Leopard Creek by winning the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
Shubhankar Sharma of India will also be competing in Kenya this year after partaking the 2019 event at the Karen course. He became the youngest Indian to win on the European Tour when he racked up the Joburg Open title in December 2017 as a 21-year-old.
Kenya will for the first time in history host back to back European Tour events with Savannah Classic planned to tee off from March 23-26 at the Karen course.
Tournament Director Patrick Obath said the two European Tour events will each feature 156 players of which 6 will be amateurs, 12 Kenyan pros and 3 from the African region.
All pros have had to qualify through the Safari Tour Golf Series.
2020 Cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic
2019- Guido Migliozzi ITALY
2018- Lorenzo Gagli Italy
2017-Aaron Rai ENGLAND
2015 Haydn Porteous RSA
2014- Jake Roos RSA
2013- Jordi García Pinto SPAIN
2012-Seve Benson ENGLAND
2011-Michiel Bothma RSA
2010-Robert Dinwiddie ENGLAND
2009- Gary Boyd ENGLAND
2008- Iain Pyman ENGLAND
2007-Edoardo Molinari ITALY