Kenya Savannah Classic Each-Way Tips: Fichardt veteran wiles suit Kenyan re-sit

Darren Fichardt
Fichardt is chasing a sixth win on the European Tour

The European Tour remains in Nairobi this week for the inaugural Kenya Savannah Classic and Matt Cooper has three each-way selections with the Betfair Sportsbook paying seven places...

"The traditional designs, the sticky grass in the rough and around the greens, the fast-running nature of the track, the trees and bushes that line the fairways – it’s very familiar."

Back Darren Fichardt E/W @ 41.040/1

Main Bet: Darren Fichardt each-way @ 40/1

Towards the end of last year I read a wonderfully gossipy book about the wanton lifestyle of the Happy Valley set who frequented the country clubs of Nairobi in the 1920s and 30s.

A hedonistic community of aristocrats and socialites, they plunged themselves into boozing, drug taking, wife swapping, game hunting, Nazi sympathising and murder with absolutely lavish abandon and a quite staggering disregard for any kind of personal responsibility.

A wild and promiscuous bunch, no doubt, but not even they were decadent enough to cram two European Tour events into just nine days.

A century on, these are heady days, indeed, for Kenya's capital city.

On Sunday Justin Harding completed victory in the Magical Kenya Open and, less than 36 hours later, the same course, Karen Country Club, will host the Kenya Savannah Classic.

It's not, of course, the first time the circuit has stayed put for a fortnight in the post-lockdown era.

We've had back-to-back events at Celtic Manor in Wales, Aphrodite Hills in Cyprus and on the Jumeirah Estate in Dubai, albeit the latter on different courses.

The turnaround this time is speedy, but there's no reason to expect it to impact too differently.

In Wales eight players completed top 20 doubles and in Cyprus seven achieved the same feat.

Romain Langasque is tempting this week after landing a third top six finish on the course, but the books know it.

Instead I'm going for a man who finished just outside the top 20 last week - South Africa's Darren Fichardt.

The 45-year-old was making his debut in Kenya, something of a surprise for such a Sunshine Tour veteran, and he enjoyed the weekend with two laps of 67 that secured T24th after making no more than a solid start.

His Strokes Gained stats show that in rounds three and four his approach play really moved through the gears, returning to the stellar levels he found two weeks ago at the Qatar Masters.

There he turned back the clock to rank second for SG Approach and earn himself a 54 hole lead before Antoine Rozner denied him.

There must have been a touch of disappointment about that, but that will have faded and after Saturday and Sunday's revival he can kick on again in this week's re-sit of the Karen examination.

Like last week's winner Harding he knows all about this sort of test - it's exactly the sort of golf he's played so much of in Africa, even if he is a little raw in Kenya itself.

The traditional designs, the sticky grass in the rough and around the greens, the fast-running nature of the track, the trees and bushes that line the fairways - it's very familiar.

Fichardt has won 18 times on the Sunshine Tour, twice in the last 12 months, and European Tour co-sanctioned victories at East London and Royal Johannesbug read well for this week.

I'm not sure he's quite done with contending in his current little run. He was T11th in both the Joburg and South African Opens before Christmas, has enjoyed the last fortnight, and there's a little juice left in his quest for a sixth European Tour win.

Next Best: Connor Syme each-way @ 40/1

The first time Scotsman Connor Syme encountered two events at the same course in consecutive weeks he rather enjoyed the experience - can he do so again?

That first occasion was at Celtic Manor last summer for the Celtic Classic and Wales Open.

In the initial event, he found himself leading after 54 holes before landing third and a week later he rode the wave, this time leading after 36 holes (and still sharing it with 18 holes to play) before eventually finishing eighth.

On his next start, he had another good effort, finishing eighth again, this time at Valderrama, a tree-lined test and in that respect, at least, it resembles Karen CC.

Connor Syme Kenya Open.jpg

Last week Syme recorded rounds of 65-67-71-64 to finish solo third and if it was the first time he'd enjoyed a top finish at the course it was not the first time he'd enjoyed playing there.

He said afterwards: "I came here a couple of years ago and really, really enjoyed the golf course. It was one I was looking forward to coming back to play.

"I played lovely (this week). We've got one day off and I'm looking forward to getting back on it."

Take Syme to ride the wave.

Final Bet: Gaganjeet Bhullar each-way @ 66/1

I very nearly tipped India's Gaganjeet Bhullar last week, but held fire.

Why so keen?

First up was the simple notion of form. He ended 2020 winning on the Indian Tour, a pretty mediocre level admittedly, but he backed it up with joint second in the Qatar Masters the week before this mini safari in East Africa.

The second factor was another straightforward one: course form.

In the 2019 edition of the Kenya Open he logged rounds of 65-70-66-69 to land solo fifth and he was never outside the top five all week.

Above and beyond that I like how many of his best results set up for this test: T13th at Valderrama proves he's happy among the trees, whilst second and twice sixth at Delhi GC is a good fit for Karen CC in being an ex-colonial club setting with a traditional, fast-running course.

My concern was that his expectations might be a little high coming straight off the Qatar result and, in that sense, his T16th last week works nicely.

He proved he likes the course (carding 66-72-69-65), he's maintained the good form and the price is more or less the same.

It's sometimes easy to forget that he's a European Tour winner, largely because the Fiji International was one of the more arcane adventures the circuit has ever undertaken, but this is a good opportunity for him to make it two wins.

MATT'S 2021 P/L
Staked: 30pts
Returned: 0pts
P/L: -30pts

2020 P/L: -32pts

Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open account using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn We'll Refund You £/€20 If the Bet Loses
Bet now

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles

Read past articles