This tournament made its debut in 2021 as the first leg of a two-part “Kenyan Swing” on the European Tour. Both legs of the “swing” took place at the Karen Country Club course in Nairobi, with this event being held just one week before the Magical Kenyan Open in March. Ever so slightly short by modern standards, the course offers a relatively straightforward challenge – albeit a particularly picturesque one courtesy of the thriving wildlife in the area.
Expected to be a one-off tournament upon its inception, the event will forever hold a special place in the heart of Daniel van Tonder. The South African had to work pretty hard to win that inaugural event, with a score of 21 under only good enough to force a playoff with Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond. It was however van Tonder who held his nerve when it mattered to claim the first European Tour victory of his career.
|2021||Karen Country Club||Daniel Van Tonder|
2021: Daniel Van Tonder
Travel restrictions and the extra challenges that go with hosting a tournament on the European Tour, which is global in nature, have mandated serious changes to the schedule. As with a number of courses over the last year, Karen Country Club hosted back to back tournaments on the European Tour with the most recent seeing Daniel Van Tonder beating Jazz Janewattananond in a playoff in the Kenya Savannah Classic.
Van Tonder was just one of seven players to fire in a round of 64 or better on a thrilling final day of golf in Kenya. With the biggest names of the European Tour over in America ahead of the Masters, this was not the strongest field of the year by a long way. That said, Van Tonder had to overcome a combination of up and coming talent and chiselled veterans to claim the win that saw him break into the world’s top 100 for the first time in his career.
Multiple European Tour winner Joost Luiten, the improving Sam Horsfield and the mercurial Victor Dubuisson all finished inside the top 10. Their momentum would checked though as there was standalone European Tour event the following week so would have to wait until the Austrian Golf Open to play again.