Magical Kenya Open 2023 Tips, Betting Predictions & Each-Way Picks

The DP World Tour returns with the Magical Kenya Open and, as always, Jamie Worsley is on hand with a comprehensive preview and six tips for the occasion. 

2 pts Julien Brun – each way (1/5 8 places) – 28/1
1.25 pts Connor Syme – each way (1/5 8 places) – 40/1
1.25 pts Rikuyu Hoshino – each way (1/5 6 places) – 45/1
1pt Ewen Ferguson  – each way (1/5 7 places) – 45/1
0.75 pts Daniel Brown – each way (1/5 6 places) – 100/1
0.5 pts Jens Fahrbring – each way (1/5 8 places) – 200/1


After a week away, the DP World Tour returns to action this week with the Kenya Open at Muthaiga Golf Club; the first of a trio of events that will take place in Africa over the next three weeks.

Tournament History

Despite only arriving on the DPWT schedule in 2019, the Kenya Open has a long history. It started off life in the late 1960’s and made it’s debut on the Challenge Tour in 1991, before hosting its first renewal as a DPWT event in 2019.

This year we are back at Muthaiga Golf Club for the second consecutive year, after Karen Country Club held it for the 2019 and 2021 editions. It took place at Muthaiga almost exclusively from its initial introduction in 1967 right through to 2002; hosting duties virtually shared equally with Karen CC since then.

We’ve had a few stars win this more obscure of titles, with the great Seve Ballesteros winning in 1978 and 1991 Masters champion, Ian Woosnam taking home the trophy in 1986 – both wins coming at Muthaiga.

Since it switched to a Challenge Tour event in 1991, nobody has won this event more than once. Justin Harding holds the tournament record winning score, shooting -22 in 2021, though that was at Karen CC; Lee James in 2002 and Maarten Lafeber in 1999 holding the record of -19 when the event has been played here at Muthaiga.

Last year saw China’s Ashun Wu produce an excellent final round display to see off the trio of Thriston Lawrence, Hurly Long and Aaron Cockerill by four strokes, finishing on a score of -16; capitalising on a final round collapse from Ewen Ferguson, who entered that final round with a four-shot lead and closed with a 76 to finish down in 8th.

The Course

Muthaiga GC is a par 71, measuring 7228 yards, though will play shorter due to being at altitude. Renowned and prolific South African course architect, Peter Matkovich is responsible for the design we see today, performing an extensive renovation of the course in the early noughties.

It’s a traditional, tree-lined course with the predominantly doglegging fairways protected by some strategically placed bunkers. Last year, rough was pretty tricky in places, though is expected to be less challenging this year due to the lack of rain in the area.

The fairways, along with the fast, relatively small greens – which are also well protected by bunkers – ranked above average in terms of difficulty in finding them last year, meaning the course presents a pretty solid ball-striking test. Whilst water is in-play on around seven holes, to provide more danger on the course.

Aforementioned greens were testing last year, as was the ability to scramble around them, which may well be important this week if forecasted conditions transpire.

The course has an unusual make up for a par 71, with five par 3s, four par 5s and nine par 4s. It starts off very difficult (and longer) on the front nine with two par 3s above 220 yards and two par 4s at around 500 yards, whilst the longest par 5 on the course – the 616 yard 7th – is also on the front nine.

Scoring opportunities look more plentiful on the back nine, with two reachable par 5s at around 530 yards and the drivable par 4 17th. Though the par 3s remain challenging and are the holes to pay closest attention to this week.

With that pretty even mix of birdie opportunities and tough holes where par will be a good score, it’s not a surprise to see Muthaiga rank around average on the DPWT last season in both birdies and bogeys made.

The Stats

We only have one year of stats to go off and with no driving distance numbers available, even they aren’t overly reliable. However, with what we have it seems apparent that quality iron play will be key.

Ashun Wu ranked 4th in approach when he won last year, with a further four of the top 7 there ranking in the top 20, including Daniel Gavins, who ranked 1st and David Horsey, ranking 9th.

We can even go back to the two most recent winners of the event on the Challenge Tour in 2017 and 2018, Aaron Rai and Lorenzo Gagli; both players who have shown quality in approach throughout their careers on the DPWT.

Ability with the putter was also on show there, not just from winner, Wu, who ranked 5th on the greens but Aaron Cockerill in 2nd ranked 1st and there were a further three from inside that top 7 who ranked top 20 in putting.

It’s another area where we can look at the Challenge Tour events to strengthen this argument, with players such as Jens Fahrbring and  Kalle Samooja – 2nd and 3rd in 2018 respectively – strong putters throughout their careers. It makes complete sense when considering how difficult the greens played last year.

There was some decent scrambling on show there too, something I’m keen to counter in this week as constantly breezy conditions should mean we see these quick greens missed.

Whilst there have been both long and short hitters go well here over the years, it’s hard not to notice that the three most recent winners at Muthaiga: Wu, Gagli and Rai, are all far more about accuracy than length off the tee. With this I feel the need to put some emphasis on players who find plenty of fairways.

Finally, those five challenging par 3s lead me to also look at players who score well on such holes this week.

Key Stats: SG: Approach, Greens-in-Regulation, SG: Putting, Scrambling, Driving Accuracy, Par 3 Scoring

Correlating Events (Courses)

We’re not blessed with much correlating form due to Muthaiga only hosting one DPWT event so far but there are some clear courses to consider.

European Masters (Crans-sur-Sierre)

First up is the similarly tree-lined, doglegging Crans-sur-Sierre – another event played at altitude. Though fairways and greens rank a little easier to find than at Muthaiga, it rates closely in terms of difficulty on and around the greens.

Thriston Lawrence won there last year after finishing runner-up in Kenya earlier in the year, whilst last year’s Kenya Open winner, Ashun Wu has a good record in the Swiss Alps, including a 6th place finish. 2018 Kenya Open winner, Lorenzo Gagli has finished 2nd at Crans, as has Matt Wallace, who finished 3rd here in 2017; with Kalle Samooja – 3rd behind Gagli here in 2018 – also with a 2nd in the Euro Masters.

ISPS Handa World Invitational (Galgorm Castle)

There are many ticks between Muthaiga and Galgorm Castle. Both are similarly challenging and tightish, tree-lined courses with speedy greens; ranking closely to one another last season in scrambling difficulty.

Daniel Gavins has won there to go with his 6th place finish here last year, where he beat last year’s ISPS Handa winner Ewen Ferguson by two shots. David Horsey was top 5 in Kenya last year and has finished 2nd at Galgorm Castle, with Francesco Laporta possessing top 5s at both courses.

Soudal Open (Rinkven International GC)

Due to the lack of events hosted between the two courses, there is little real correlating form between Muthaiga and Rinkven. However, Rinkven ranked closer from a statistical point of view than any other course I looked at this week – from a ball-striking and short-game perspective – whilst also possessing similar averages of birdies and bogeys made as here at Muthaiga last year.

There is little surprise in that, as another heavily tree-lined, doglegging course with plenty of risk/reward opportunities and I’m certain the more these two courses are played, the more we’ll find strong form-ties between the two.

The Weather

Conditions are currently forecast to be dry for most of the week, though with the potential for a little rain on Sunday. In addition to that comes a strong, consistent breeze over the course of the event of around 13-17mph, which will certainly ask some questions of the players.

The Field

We have a decent field teeing it up this week in Kenya. The Spanish duo of Adrian Otaegui and Adri Arnaus are the top ranked players in the field at #82 and #86 respectively; Robert MacIntyre the only other player from inside the world’s top 100.

Former top 50 amateur and two-time winner on the Alps Tour last year, France’s Tom Vaillant is one of the more interesting entries this week, coming here off the back of a 3rd place finish on the Challenge Tour in South Africa last time out.

He’s joined by a couple of South African’s who’ve also been making waves in those co-sanctioned events in the past few months, Casey Jarvis and Dylan Mostert. Jarvis is a former #40 amateur who has recorded two top 10s there this season and finished 9th on the DPWT in the Joburg Open, whilst Mostert won his 2nd title in South Africa on his last start and showed his potential at this level with a 4th place finish in the Mauritius Open at the end of last year.


France’s Antoine Rozner is our 16/1 favourite this week, following some excellent form out in Asia, where he recorded two top 6 finishes. He’s followed by an out of form Robert MacIntyre at 20/1, with two Spaniards, Adrian Otaegui and Adri Arnaus next in the betting.

Rozner looks a real danger, though in three visits here he has never really impressed, so is passed up. Though we don’t have to go far – from the top of the betting or geographically – to find my first selection this week, as I’m taking Rozner’s compatriot, Julien Brun to win his first DP World Tour title this week.


2 pts Julien Brun – each way (1/5 8 places)


We were actually on Brun last time out, when finishing 12th in Singapore. There he started well but faded over the weekend, though that was the latest result in what has been a really strong start to his second season on the DP World Tour.

Brun signed off last year with a 3rd place finish in the Mauritius Open – his first and only start of the new season at that point. When returning to action this year, he narrowly missed the cut in Abu Dhabi but bounced back impressively on his next start, finishing 5th in a strong field in the Dubai Desert Classic.

Another missed cut followed in Ras al Khaimah but again he bounced back in Singapore with that 12th place finish. Meaning he’s produced finishes of 3rd, 5th and 12th on just five starts this season.

These performances have been engineered in very much the same way as his better performances last year were; with quality in approach and on the greens.

Brun ranks 14th in approach, 18th in greens-in-regulation and 23rd in putting so far in the new season; a ranking of 8th in scrambling also very appealing this week. Furthermore he’s an excellent par 3 player, ranking 1st on the DPWT this year, following on from him being 10th in par 3 scoring last year.

This skillset should translate to some who can go well here, which was certainly on show last year as Brun finished 13th, looking good in approach and with the short-game. A 16th place finish on his one and only try at Crans last year providing me with further confidence that the Frenchman can get that breakthrough DPWT win this week.


1.25 pts Connor Syme – each way (1/5 8 places)


Connor Syme has had a steady start to the season and as a player with plenty of form at similar courses, I’m taking him to kick his level of form up a notch this week.

Syme had an excellent year in 2022, which resulted in him finishing top 30 on the Race to Dubai and finishing the year with a 12th place finish in the DP World Tour Championship.

Though putting up some good performances, his form was much better and more consistent in the second half of the year. He collected consecutive 2nd place finishes in Wales and Northern Ireland in August, before making his final five cuts of the year and hitting the top 10 again in the Dunhill Links Championship.

Syme hasn’t done anything spectacular as yet this year but has been perfectly solid, making every cut and recording a best of 28th in the Abu Dhabi Championship in his first start of the year, whilst more recently he finished 33rd in Thailand.

Syme’s game is built on strong ball-striking that is reliant on accuracy, with a solid level of ability on the greens. All very much on show so far this year, particularly the ball-striking, where he ranks 25th in GIR, 34th in approach and 35th in driving accuracy.

He played here for the first time in 2018, missing the cut but was much improved last year when finishing 26th thanks to a strong ball-striking display and a solid performance on the greens. Whilst his record at Galgorm Castle, where he finished 2nd last year and has finished top 10 in the past adds further positives.

Syme has gone close numerous times on the DPWT over recent years, with three runner-up finishes and countless top 5s. With the extra motivation of seeing good friend Ewen Ferguson become a now two-time DPWT winner, Syme can finally turn those challenging efforts into a first DPWT win this week.


1.25 pts Rikuyu Hoshino – each way (1/5 6 places)


Speaking of Ferguson, he was in complete control of this event last year before a final round collapse. However, that experience was the catalyst of that two-win season for the Scotsman, winning the Qatar Masters just three starts after and doubling up in Northern Ireland later in the year at the ISPS Handa World Invitational.

His start to this year has been a little underwhelming – a 28th place finish in the Dubai Desert Classic his best result – but he is a player who has proven that he can suddenly find it. Indeed he looked out of sorts in his couple of starts prior to winning his first title in Qatar last year.

His game is all about precision ball-striking, ranking 5th in GIR, 9th in approach, 31st in driving accuracy and 33rd off-the-tee on the DPWT last year. Whilst his form hasn’t been great so far this year, it has been good to see him scrambling well, ranking 34th. A game that well suits this test, which was on show last year.

Entering that final round, Ferguson had produced a superb display full of straight driving and precision iron-play to open up a four shot lead heading into Sunday. Everything failed him there though, resulting in him shooting 76 to drop from a comfortable leader to an 8th place finisher; undoubtedly down to that being his first time in such a position and not handling the pressure.

A win at Galgorm Castle last year, as well as a 3rd place finish at Rinkven in the 2019 Belgian Knockout adds to the confidence in Ferguson here and with that winning experience now in the bag, he can gain redemption for what happened here in 2022 and take home the victory this time around.


1pt Ewen Ferguson  – each way (1/5 7 places)


I was keen on all the Japanese players in this week’s field, as the Japanese Golf Tour is almost exclusively played on similar types of heavily tree-lined parkland style courses and it’s been no surprise to see Masahiro Kawamura do well on many of them since coming to the DPWT.

He was one that appealed to me, as was youngster Ryo Hisatsune, who’s been in excellent form and could be anything yet. However I’ve sided with the class and winning experience of Rikuyu Hoshino instead.

Hoshino is a six-time winner out in Japan – for context, Kawamura and Hisatsune have just one win between them on the main tour, though Hisatsune has won three times at the level below – and has been one of the class acts on that tour over the last five years.

Hoshino made an excellent start to his debut season on the DPWT, finishing 6th in the Ras al Khaimah Championship, where he was excellent in approach and with the short-game. However, he missed the cut on his last start in Singapore.

He’s a strong all-round player as shown by his stats on the Japanese Tour last year, where he ranked 1st in scrambling, 1st in sand saves, 4th in ball-striking, 5th in putting and 5th in total driving; resulting in a player who made more birdie than anyone.

Hoshino looks to have transferred that quality of performance over to the DPWT if his performance at Ras al Khaimah is anything to go by and that on a course that would’ve been far different to what he is consistently used to playing back home. At this more familiar style course this week, he has every chance of another strong performance.


0.75 pts Daniel Brown – each way (1/5 6 places)


I’ve been waiting for Daniel Brown to turn up at one of these types of courses for much of this season. His straight driving and strong short-game will be much more suited to this test than many of the more exposed courses played so far this season, yet he has played well in them nonetheless and can go even better on this setup this week.

Brown earned his DPWT card thanks to finishing 3rd at Q School last year, though was a little unfortunate not to gain it after a strong finish on the Challenge Tour, hitting the top 16 seven times in his final nine starts of the year, four of them top 10s. Though unfortunately that wasn’t enough to undo a relatively poor start to the year, that resulted in that missing out on automatic promotion.

He has continued to show that consistent form on the DPWT this season, where he’s made every cut and finished inside the top 40 on five of his six starts – the best of them a 5th in the South African Open at the end of last year.

As mentioned, his game is built on straight driving, ranking 10th on the DPWT in driving accuracy and a quality short-game, where he ranks 31st in scrambling and 37th on the greens. Whilst I’m further encouraged by how well he plays the par 3s, ranking 5th so far this season.

Brown won the prestigious English Amateur in 2016, joining the likes of Paul Casey, Danny Willett and Tommy Fleetwood on the roll-of-honours. His pro career has been following an attractive, steady progression over recent years and he can take another step forward this week, by making a run at that first pro title.


0.5 pts Jens Fahrbring – each way (1/5 8 places)


I’m going to sign off with Sweden’s Jens Fahrbring. He finished 2nd here behind Lorenzo Gagli in 2018 on the Challenge Tour and after winning his DPWT card back at last year’s Q School, has shown plenty of positive signs so far this season.

Fahrbring first played fully on the DPWT in 2016, earning his card thanks to an excellent season on the Challenge Tour in 2015, where he won the second of his titles on the tour.

He struggled there originally, having to go through Q-School in 2016 to retain playing rights for the 2017 season and though playing better, failed in retaining his full playing rights again.

He spent much of the next few years playing a limited schedule between the Challenge Tour and DPWT, with a few standout performances such as that 2nd here in 2018, before returning to a virtually full Challenge Tour schedule in 2021.

He struggled massively that year and for much of the early part of last year but started to find a consistent level of performance towards the end of 2022, hitting the top 20 six times in his final fifteen starts of the year, though ultimately still fell short of winning an automatic return to the DPWT.

Fahrbring put that right at Q-School, finishing 19th over the marathon six-day event to earn a return to the DPWT. He wasted little time getting to work, with a 3rd place finish in the South African Open at the end of last year equalling his best ever finish on the tour, which came when finishing 3rd in the Italian Open in 2015.

Since then, Fahrbring has remained consistent, finishing 24th in Mauritius two starts after his 3rd in South Africa and following missing his first two cuts this year, Fahrbring has responded with solid enough performances on his last two starts.

A 2nd place finish here is an obvious positive, as is his record at Galgorm Castle, where he finished 3rd in the Northern Ireland Open in 2020 on the Challenge Tour. With his irons looking in good nick this season – where he ranks 19th – he looks a lively outsider at a huge price this week.


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Author: Philip Jones