July 18, 2024

Kenyan contingent falters as trio share Kenya Open lead

Kenyan contingent falters as trio share Kenya Open lead
Darius van Driel in action at the 2024 Magical Kenya Open at Muthaiga/Photo/European Tour

Tapio Pulkkanen, Connor Syme, and Darius van Driel emerged as frontrunners amidst a tightly contested leaderboard as the Magical Kenya Open transitioned into the weekend.

Tapio Pulkkanen, Connor Syme, and Darius van Driel emerged as frontrunners amidst a tightly contested leaderboard as the Magical Kenya Open transitioned into the weekend. 

Notably, no Kenyan players managed to secure a spot for the final rounds of Saturday and Sunday. Dismas Indiza finishing at +2 with scores of 74 and 70 in the first two rounds, marking him as the highest-ranked Kenyan participant.

Njoroge Kibugu also bid farewell to the tournament, his overall score of +3 (71 and 74 in consecutive rounds) falling short of making the cut.

Van Driel, hailing from the Netherlands, maintained his lead into the second day, following his impressive opening round of 66 with a solid 69, setting the pace at seven under par. He shared the top position with Pulkkanen, who closed with a flourish of birdies for a 68, and Syme, the Scottish golfer, who capped off his round with an eagle, resulting in a thrilling three-way tie.

Further down the leaderboard, Spanish player Manuel Elvira, Scottish golfer Ewen Ferguson, Englishman Sam Hutsby, and Italian golfer Lorenzo Scalise were in close pursuit at six under par, with a total of 21 players within three shots of the lead.

All three leaders had ascended to the DP World Tour via the European Challenge Tour, with Pulkkanen topping the Road to Mallorca Rankings in 2017, and Syme and Van Driel both earning their spots two years later. While they have each achieved runner-up finishes on the DP World Tour, they are now vying for their first wins at Muthaiga Golf Club from diverse circumstances.

Pulkkanen, currently without playing privileges for this season after losing his card in 2023, aims for a comeback, while Van Driel swiftly regained his card at the Qualifying School. Syme, known for his consistent performances over five full seasons on Tour, continues his impressive streak with seven made cuts out of seven in the 2024 campaign.

Van Driel, teeing off early in the first group, encountered challenges with wind and temperature fluctuations but managed a commendable score, expressing satisfaction with his performance and expressing hopes for improvement in his putting.

Pulkkanen, despite an early setback with a bogey, showcased resilience with successive birdies, emphasizing the importance of momentum in his game plan.

Syme, though not as proficient with his putting as the previous day, expressed contentment with his overall game and highlighted key moments of his round, including a crucial eagle on the last hole.

Other notable performances included Joe Dean, Tom Lewis, Louis de Jager, Deon Germishuys, Craig Howie, Frederic Lacroix, Jesper Svensson, and Lucas Vacarisas, all within striking distance of the leaders with impressive scores.

Magical Kenya Open Leaderboard

Conor Syme -7(135)
Tapio Pulkannen -7(135)
Darius Van Driel -7(135)
Sam Hutsby -6(136)
Manuel Elvira -6(136)
Ewen Ferguson -6(136)
Frederic LaCroix -5(137)
Deon Germishuys-5(137)
Lucas Vacarisas -5(137)
Tom Lewis -5(137)