European Tour Release, 13 March 2019: Justin Harding is looking to win back-to-back titles on three different golf tours by claiming victory at the Magical Kenya Open presented by Absa this week. Shubhankar Sharma is also in the field this week as he looks to put himself back on the rails after a run of poor form recently.
Shubhankar tees off at the 10th with Adri Arnaus and Dismas Indiza Anyonyi. Gaganjeet Bhullar, Khalin Joshi and S Chikkarangappa are also in the mix this week as they continue to push further up the rankings.
The South African, who won on the European Tour for the first time at last week’s Qatar Masters, has triumphed on five occasions in the last ten months, with back-to-back victories coming on both the Sunshine Tour, and the Asian Tour, last summer.
Such a remarkable run has catapulted the 33 year old, who has won 11 professional titles worldwide, from outside the top 500 in the world to World Number 52 over the course of 12 months, leaving Harding with a good chance of qualifying for next month’s Masters Tournament.
“It would have been an unbelievable thought 12 months ago to think that I’d have a chance of qualifying for Augusta. I have to pinch myself now when I think about it. I still have to take it a week at a time though and see if we can maybe get there.
“I was here last year for the Karen Masters, a Sunshine Tour event, and it is a lovely little golf course which is old school and very strategic. You will probably find the guys are going to make a bunch of birdies, and I am looking forward to this week.
“I don’t know how it [winning back-to-back twice] worked out like that. I have been playing really consistent golf and have managed to put myself into position on several Sundays then managed to get it right. Hopefully we can put three rounds together again and then go out and make some birdies on Sunday to be in contention again.”
Also in the field this week is the triumphant 2018 Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn, who returns to Nairobi for the first time in 24 years since finishing as a runner-up in the 1995 edition of the long-running event – which celebrates its 51st anniversary by hosting a European Tour tournament for the first time.
Three of the last four Kenya Open champions all return to the Kenyan capital – South Africa’s Haydn Porteous, Sweden’s Sebastian Soderberg and Italy’s Lorenzo Gagli.
Gagli will look to defend the title he lifted at neighbouring Muthaiga Golf Club 12 months ago, when the event was part of the European Challenge Tour’s International Schedule.