PickGuru Golf: Magical Kenya Open

PickGuru Golf: Magical Kenya Open

This article is part of our PickGuru Golf series.

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Magical Kenya Open

The last two editions of the Magical Kenya Open – sandwiched around a 2020 cancelation due to the COVID-19 pandemic -- were held at Karen Country Club, but with the golfers taking it to the course last year, it will return to Muthaiga Golf Club for the first time since 2018. 

The field currently features 145 players, and four former winners will be on hand, including defending champion Justin Harding. Of those four, only Lorenzo Gagli won at Muthaiga. 

Profiling the Winner

The results of last year's tournament, while certainly not meaningless, will not be a major factor given the change in tracks. Harding won last year at 21-under-par, but only twice in the nine Kenyan Opens played at Muthaiga since the turn of the century did the winner finish lower than 14-under par. It's worth glancing at the 2018 results, but most of the players in this year's field did not take part, and among those that did, Oliver Bekker had the only notable result, and that was a T6.

Muthaiga will be played as a par-71 at 7,184 yards. The course features four par-5s, and only one hole will play longer than 551 yards. The track is not a lengthy one by any means, but the scores are kept in check by the hazards that come into play on many of the holes. 

With the course being only average length and all of water, trees and bushes coming into play, we're going to lean toward accuracy over distance off the tee and favor those who fare well in the scrambling department. The course website boasts speedy greens, so we're also going to give an edge to those who more regularly get the job done on the putting surface.

Category Picks

Premium Picks

Players included: Dean Burmester, Adri Arnaus, Justin Harding, Adrian Meronk

Guru Verdict: It is tough to look past Burmester, who is the favorite to win and checks in higher in the Official World Golf Ranking than any player mentioned in this article. However, we are going to go with Harding. We don't want to overvalue his 2021 win, but he is right behind Burmester on the odds chart and does at least crack the top 100 in the OWGR, so he is not too far behind in those areas. Harding's statistical profile is simply better, as even though the sample size is small, he ranks no lower than 58th in driving accuracy, scrambling, Strokes Gained: Putting and SG: Total early this season, and Burmester ranks no higher than 60th in any of them and is well below 100th in both scrambling and putting.


Players included: Johannes Veerman, Thomas Detry, Daniel van Tonder, Marcus Armitage

Guru Verdict: This is a pretty tough group to gauge, as the first three players listed are ranked between 81st and 111th in the OWGR, and Armitage has been scrambling better than any of them. Veerman has the best stats and a recent win, but we're going to go with van Tonder, who has won six times worldwide since August of 2020, with one of those also coming recently and another coming in Kenya last March.


Players included: Oliver Bekker, Matthieu Pavon, Zander Lombard, Scott Jamieson, Joachim Hansen

Guru Verdict: Bekker fared well here in the past, is ranked among the top 150 players in the world and is ranked no lower than 96th in any of the categories mentioned in the first section. However, we are going to go with Pavon, who has better odds and is scrambling better than anyone else on the DP World Tour early this season. For what it's worth, Jamieson's stats are slightly better across the board than Bekker's, and he has the same odds as Pavon.


Players included: Shubhankar Sharma, Julien Brun, Matthew Jordan, Hurly Long, Adrian Otaegui

Guru Verdict: No one in this group has a dreadful statistical profile, and among the five players Sharma is faring by far the best in the driving accuracy and putting departments. He is also scrambling worse than any of them, and that's enough to scare us off. Otaegui, meanwhile, ranks 10th in scrambling at this point, and he also has the best odds among the five. Add that all up, and he gets the edge.

Dark Horses

Players included: Joost Luiten, Masahiro Kawamura, Antoine Rozner, Sean Crocker, Ashun Wu

Guru Verdict: The veteran Wu ranks no lower than 48th in the four categories we have been discussing, but he has also never played this event before and is the lowest-ranked player in this group. We're going to go with our gut and go with Crocker, who is off to a bit of a slow start but was ranked 137th in the world not that long ago and seems due to get back on track after notching a handful of top-10s in the back half of last year.


Players included: David Horsey, Hennie Du Plessis, Francesco Laporta, Richie Ramsay, Connor Syme

Guru Verdict: He's the lowest-ranked player among these five players, but he also has the best odds of the bunch and the best stats of the five players, so we're going to go right ahead and give this group to Ramsay.


Players included: Thriston Lawrence, Jayden Schaper, Matti Schmid, Wil Besseling, Louis de Jager, Lukas Nemecz

Guru Verdict: No one really stands out among these half dozen players, but Schmid and Besseling have an edge in the odds department. The latter's are a bit better and dropping, which suggests the bettors believe in him. We do, too.

Wild Cards

Players included: Eddie Pepperell, Sami Valimaki, Marcus Helligkilde, Joakim Lagergren, Daniel Gavins, Marcus Kinhult

Guru Verdict: We've always liked Pepperell, but he has hit a bit of a rough patch, so we're going to pass on him. We can't fault you for going with Helligkilde, who is ranked 96th in the OWGR – nearly 100 spots above anyone else in this lot. However, he has not had nearly the same success on the DP World Tour as he did on the Challenge Tour. The odds say this group belongs to Lagergren, and the greens do as well, as he ranks 18th on the DP World Tour in SG: Putting.

The Selections

Premium Picks: Justin Harding
Front-runners: Daniel van Tonder
Challengers: Matthieu Pavon
Contenders: Adrian Otaegui
Dark Horses: Sean Crocker
Chancers: Richie Ramsay
Outsiders: Wil Besseling
Wild Cards: Joakim Lagergren

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