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Will Roos have an edge in Kenya?Last time Jake Roos played the Karen Country Club layout, he won the tournament there in 2014. So he has an edge as he goes into this week’s KCB Karen Masters which tees off on Thursday in a first venture into the East African country for the Sunshine Tour. Roos won the 2014 Barclays Kenya Open there, and, with a solid start to his 2018-19 Sunshine Tour season in which he lies 10th on the Order of Merit after five tournaments, the kind of local knowledge that he has for the R2-million tournament will come in pretty handy. “It’s one of the traditional African courses, sort of old-style and tight,” said Roos. “It’s not wide open, so you’re going to have to hit it quite accurately. Last time I was here, the course was in great shape and it’s even better now. I’m looking forward to it.” Situated in large part on the former coffee estate developed by the Danish pioneer Karen Blixen, whose life and times were depicted in the lyrical film ‘Out of Africa’. Indeed, the shade trees from her coffee plantation still dominate parts of the golf course, 80 years after they were planted. So it’s tighter than many of the tour professionals are used to. It will demand that a premium be placed on accuracy, and it’s there that Roos might find himself in a battle with some of the players who have been straighter off the tee than he has this season at 50.48 percent of fairways hit. Ahead of him in that telling statistic are the likes of Neil Schietekat, who won the Sun City Challenge early in June, and Justin Harding who has won twice on the Sunshine Tour – and once in Asia – this year already. Schietekat has hit 72.38 percent of fairways this season, while Harding, who defeated Roos in a marathon play-off for the Lombard Insurance Classic in Swaziland in late May, is lower down on that list at 58.48 percent. There will be more than just those players in contention however, and Nairobi locals like Dismas Indiza and Jacob Okello will have the chance to convert their familiarity with Karen Country Club into some sort of advantage. Indeed, one of the major pluses of the tournament is the opportunity it offers both Sunshine Tour professionals and Kenyan players for expansion of horizons. “One area where the tour can expand is into Africa,” said Roos. “This is a great example. Kenya is a great golfing nation. They’ve had a Challenge Tour event for quite some time, so to have a Sunshine Tour event here is brilliant. There’s a lot of scope here, and the guys already love it here.”  
KCB Karen Masters: What’s whatThe Sunshine Tour extends its wings to Kenya’s capital City of Nairobi to stage its first ever event –the KCB Karen Masters – in that part of the continent. The event will be staged at the 81-year-old Karen Country Club from 19 – 22 July. The tournament is sponsored by the Kenya Commercial Bank and boasts a prize-fund of R2million and the winner will earn the right to wear the Karen Masters Blue Jacket. The format: The competition will be decided over 72 holes of stroke play. After 36 holes there will be a cut to the leading 60 professionals and ties. Four-Ball Alliance with two scores to count on each hole. The tournament will be preceded by a Pro-Am event on Tuesday and Wednesday. The field: 156 players. 100 spots are allocated to Sunshine Tour players and 38 sports to ProGolf Kenya (PGK) players while other spots are taken up by players from other African countries including Malawi, Ethiopia, and Ghana among others. The defending champion: Will Besseling of the Netherlands is the defending champion but is not in the field to defend this week: He won the tournament by 12-under-par 132 to win the Blue Jacket last year under a different banner. The course: Founded in 1937, Karen Country Club prides itself for being one of the oldest golf clubs in Kenya. The course is superbly maintained with greens built to the PGA standards. Karen Country Club is arguably the best maintained golfing facilities in the region. It stretches over 6000 yards covering some of the most scenic terrains Karen has to offer. The layout presents a challenge to even the most seasoned golfer, usually forcing the use of every club in the bag. The fairways are tight in some spots and open in others. Well-positioned bunkers guard the holes and landing zones throughout course, placing a premium on accuracy. From the well-manicured fairways and plush rough to the meticulously cared for undulating greens, The Karen Country club delivers a visual treat as well and there is no doubt that the club not only offers the total golf experience- but can be hailed as one of the iconic and standout courses on the continent. A large part of the 18-hole course was built on the former coffee estate developed by the Danish pioneer, Karen Blixen, whose life and times were depicted in the lyrical film ‘Out of Africa’. Indeed, the shade trees from her coffee plantation still dominate parts of the golf course, over 80 years after they were planted. The course is a par 72 layout and a challenging 6,341 metres (6,934 yards) in length from the championship tees.   The form player: Having won for the third time in about two months when he claimed his maiden Asian Tour title – the Bank BRI Indonesia Open - on Sunday, Justin Harding is surely on fire and he will be the player to beat in Kenya. He claimed back-to-back wins in May in the form of the Investec Royal Swazi Open and Lombard Insurance Classic at the Royal Swazi Golf Spa in eSwatini. From there, Harding went on to claim a share of the sixth position at the Sun City Challenge a month later. While the seven-time Sunshine Tour winner’s season got off to a shaky start – missing the cut at the Zanaco Masters in April – he quickly turned that around, finishing T5 at the Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open a week later and was runner-up to Rourke van der Spuy at the Mopani Redpath Zambia Open thereafter. His current form cannot be ignored and eyes will be on him at Karen Country Club. The sentimental pick: Neil Schietekat’s five-year wait for a second victory came to an end with that win at the Sun City Challenge in June. He started the season just as poorly, missing the cut at the Zanaco Masters and the Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open in April. He bounced back, however, at the Mopani Redpath Zambia Open where he came seventh before going to the Lombard Insurance Classic where he finished tied 33rd in May, a result that was followed by a shared 40th at the Investec Royal Swazi Open. Having tasted victory already this season, and with his ability and current confidence, Schietekat will be a real threat this week. The bolter: Stefan Engell Andersen remains the only Kenyan player with a Sunshine Tour card. Playing a Sunshine Tour tournament in his home country for only the first time, Andersen will surely want to produce his best performance when he tees off this week. He has only made one cut this season at the Zanaco Masters where he finished 35th but that should mean very little when the entire nation will be banking on him to impress. His current form doesn’t suggest much but it is a known fact that golf is unpredictable and to count him out might prove to be a huge mistake. Television: There will be no live television.  
Scott comes second in IndonesiaZimbabwe’s Scott Vincent carded a final round two-under-par 70 to finish one shot behind the winner Justin Harding who claimed the Bank BRI Indonesia Open on a total of 18-under 270 at the Pondik Indah Golf Course, on Sunday. The 26-year-old admitted that the four bogeys he made on the sixth, ninth, 10th and 14th were the reasons Harding got away. “It was frustrating to give away shots and I gave one too many here,” Vincent said about the bogeys. “I played the par-fives very poorly today. That is something that I’ll be thinking about a little longer. I was probably too aggressive then, especially when I was in the front seat. I still have got a lot to learn from this,” Apart from dropping those shots, Vincent used the better part of the round making gains with three consecutive birdies on second, third and fourth. He made more birdies on the 13th, 15th and the last hole which gave him a total of 17-under-par 271 following rounds of 69, 66, 66 and the final round 70. He had a lot to smile about after the tournament, having made 24 birdies in the tournament, an effort which saw him finish second for the third time in his Asian Tour career. He came second at the 32nd Shinhan Donghae Open in 2016 and also at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters last year. “I can’t be too disappointed with the result,” he said, “I got off to a good start that put some pressure on him. At the end of the day, he came through when it mattered. More credit to him. I’m getting very close to winning for sure. I decided to play an iron on the 18th. I made a birdie in the end so I’m happy with that.” He was also happy for the reception he received. “The fans were great! I enjoyed the attention and I’m happy that the fans like me. I’m taking the next two weeks off and recharge for the busy next half of the season,” he said. Harding’s fellow countrymen in the field were Jbe Kruger was tied 11 on 12-under-par 276 and Lyle Rowe shared 47th on three-under 285.  
Brilliant 60 in Scotland sees Stone into The OpenFrom The European Tour South Africa's Brandon Stone equalled the lowest round in European Tour history to win the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open. The 25 year old became the 18th player to shoot 60 on the European Tour – Darren Clarke has done it twice – and the fourth to do so on a Sunday on their way to lifting the trophy. Stone's scintillating ten under par effort was almost one better though – he missed from seven feet on the last for what would have been the first 59 in European Tour history. He carded eight birdies and an eagle in his first 16 holes at Gullane and needed to play the last two in one under par to break the magical 60 barrier. A clubhouse target of 20 under par never looked like being matched as Stone recorded his third European Tour title, and also claimed one of three places in the field at next week's Open Championship. The others went to runner-up Eddie Pepperell, who raced to the turn in 30 and briefly led by two shots before Stone's barrage of birdies saw him overhauled, and Sweden's Jens Dantorp. A closing 64 saw England's Pepperell finish on 16 under, with overnight leader Dantorp carding a 68 to finish alongside South Africa's Trevor Immelman (65) and American Luke List (64) on 15 under. List already had a spot in the field at Carnoustie, and Dantorp pipped 2008 Masters Tournament champion Immelman by virtue of his higher position in the Official World Golf Ranking. Stone began the final round three shots off the lead but covered the front nine in 31 and picked up birdies on the tenth, 12th, 14th and 15th before holing a curling eagle putt from 30 feet on the par-five 16th to set up his shot at history. “It's incredible,” Stone said. “If I'm going to be brutally honest, I had no idea what my score was until I walked on to the 18th green. “It was just one of those days where everything went well, hit it great, holed some beautiful putts, and obviously to walk away with 60 having missed an eight-footer was a slight disappointment, but I won't really complain. “My caddie came up to me and said, you don't get putts like this too often, so I let him read it. I said as we walked on the green, I'm not reading this one. This is completely up to you. “I rolled it over his mark, but he did criticize my pace, he said it lacked a little bit of pace. So he probably is right. Didn't hold its line, but we'll take it. “The putt on 16 is pretty much where you could say the tournament was won for me. I felt great. I knew I just needed to make three more good swings, and when that thing went home, the emotions came flooding in. I had to really struggle to keep it in. “Hopefully I can find accommodation (for the Open)!”  
Harding's brilliant form gives him Indonesia Open titleFrom the Asian Tour Justin Harding of South Africa put an exclamation point on the closely contested final day, as he carded a one-under-par 71 to win his maiden Asian Tour title at the US$500,000 Bank BRI Indonesia Open on Sunday. The 32-year-old, who missed only three greens-in-regulation before the final round, uncharacteristically dropped two shots on holes seven and eight. However, he bounced back when it mattered with two birdies before emerging victorious with an 18-under-par 270 total at the Pondok Indah Golf Course. Zimbabwe's Scott Vincent transferred the pressure to Harding early in the round after firing three consecutive birdies on the second, third and fourth hole. But he lost the advantage after dropping three shots at the sixth, ninth and 10th. He eventually ended the week in second place, his fifth top-10 finish this year. Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat and United States’ Sihwan Kim shared third place after carding 68 and 69 respectively. Gaganjeet Bhullar of India is one shot behind the duo, in lone fifth place. Johannes Veerman (66), who led the tournament after the opening round, ended his tournament with a flourish. He grabbed a share of sixth place, along with India’s Udayan Mane and Thailand’s Natipong Srithong. Harding will be taking up Asian Tour membership after his win at the Bank BRI Indonesia Open. The current Sunshine Tour Order of Merit leader was playing in the tournament on an invite.  Did you know?
  • Justin Harding missed only three fairways in his the first three rounds.
  • At 90 per cent (65/72), he is ranked first in greens-in-regulation at the tournament.
  • Before his consecutive bogeys on the final round, he last dropped a shot in round one, on the second hole.
  • Harding turned professional in 2010.
  • He has a total of seven victories on the Sunshine Tour.
  • Scott Vincent posted two top-10 finishes in his rookie year. He was tied-ninth at the 2016 Bashundhara Bangladesh Open and tied-second at the 2016 Shinhan Donghae Open.
  • Vincent came into the Bank BRI Indonesia Open on the back of two top-10 finishes. He was tied-sixth at the Queen’s Cup and tied-seventh at the Sarawak Championship.
  • He graduated from Virginia Tech University with a finance degree.
  • Sihwan Kim finished ninth on the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2013.
  • After the Queen’s Cup, he rose to 211st on the Official World Golf Ranking list, the highest achieved so far in his professional career.
  • Gaganjeet Bhullar won both his Indonesia Open titles in 2013 and 2016 by three shots.
  • Udayan Mane has won on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) this season, at the Golconda Masters 2018.
  • Johannes Veerman is the 2016 Asian Development Tour Order of Merit champion.
  • At one point of the final round, only three shots separated the top nine golfers.
  • This was the first time in three years the officials did not have to suspend the play due to bad weather.
Quotes: Justin Harding (RSA) – Final Round 71 (-1), Total 270 (-18) It was a hard day today. Perhaps it was a case of nerves, but I was playing for a Tour card and there was a lot of money of the line. I started well and I thought that I can birdie the sixth then I had two bogeys out of nowhere. My last bogey was at the second hole in the first round! I tried to stay patient and keep the momentum going. I aim to hit the greens and statistically, you are bound to make one or two. I made one on the 12th, and that got me going. I was annoyed not to make another one on 14. I’m a leaderboard watcher as I like to know what’s going on. That makes a difference to how I play. The 16th is a tough hole; I played conservatively there the whole week. Today, I hit it inside 10 or 15 feet. I rolled it in, which was crucial as it gave me a one-shot lead. I hit a good shot at the 18th. I was planning to lag it down there to two inches and tap it in, but I didn’t mean it put it four feet past the hole! I’m thrilled with the victory. I came here not knowing what to expect. I’ve been playing nicely the whole year. I like the golf course and it was set up quite nicely for me. You can’t get too aggressive on it. Manage distances and make some putts here and there. I didn’t expect to win, and it was to have done so. I knew that Scott (Vincent) will come out firing. I thought that I have to finish close to 20-under to have a chance. His time will surely come. If you finish ahead of Scott, then you are going to have a good week. We had a good day out there and I’ve had a good week in Indonesia. (About accepting membership for the Asian Tour) I’m glad to have avoided Q-School! I’m looking forward to playing on Tour, but I’ll have to look at the schedule and shift some things around. I’m just happy to get an opportunity from the Asian Tour to play here and I’m glad it all worked out fine.  
Solid Harding take halfway lead in IndonesiaFrom the Asian Tour Justin Harding of South Africa shot a six-under-par 66 to grab the clubhouse lead at the ongoing US$500,000 Bank BRI Indonesia Open on Friday. The 32-year-old Harding, who is playing in the tournament via an invite from the organisers, was bogey-free as he carded six birdies for a 11-under-par 133 total at the Pondok Indah Golf Course. Rattanon Wannasrichan of Thailand carded a 67, the lowest score from the morning session. He is just two shots behind Harding. Rattanon, as well as Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent (66) and India’s Khalin Joshi (68) will progress to Saturday on 135. Four-time Asian Tour champion Chapchai Nirat has bounced back from two-consecutive missed cuts on the Asian Tour by carding 69 and 67 in the first and second round respectively. He is well above the cut line on a 136 total, along with Sihwan Kim of United States. The top-65 golfers and ties will progress to the third round of the Bank BRI Indonesia Open.  
Norris thrives in JapanMany would have questioned Shaun Norris about his decision to add the Japan Golf Tour to his schedule when he did, but so successful has been his journey there that none dare question his logic now. While he managed to claim victory in his maiden season on the Japan Golf Tour in 2016 – the LeoPalace21 Myanmar Open – Norris was unable to climb beyond the 43rd spot on that Tour’s Order of Merit after 21 tournaments. Having acclimatised and familiarised himself with some of the golf courses played over his first season there, Norris went on to make the following season one to remember. Similarly to his rookie season, the two-time Sunshine Tour winner bagged a single victory, the JGT Championship Mori Building Cup at Shishido Hills. Unlike the previous season, however, in 2017, Norris made enough money to propel himself to seventh on the Order of Merit after 21 events, the same number of tournaments he played the season prior. That successful campaign was capped off with a ticket to The Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Links following his third-place finish at the Joburg Open. After eight tournaments so far, Norris sits 13th on the Japan Golf Tour Order of Merit, and while a win this season has eluded him up to now, he boasts a runner-up finish he picked up at the SMBC Singapore Open, two top-five finishes and one missed cut. And then, last week at the Shigeo Nagashima Invitational SEGA SAMMY Cup, Norris once again showed he is not in Japan only to learn the culture and enjoy Japanese cuisine. He showed his hunger to succeed and played himself to a share of third in the 54-hole event held at The North Country Golf Club. Those results catapulted him to where he currently sits on the Order of Merit and with the season still in its infancy, there promises to be more to come from Norris but currently, there are more pressing matters. Next is The Open. His debut in 2017 was achieved on the same Japan Golf Tour. A week after just missing out on Royal Birkdale at the Gate Way to The Open Mizuno Open – four spots were on offer and he tied for sixth – he won the JGT Tour Championship, a closing 64 lifting him to second on the money list on the very day that the top two received Open exemptions. Following his impressive showing at the Joburg Open which young Indian sensation Shubankar Sharma calmly won, and Norris shared third with Tapio Pulkannen of Finland, he will now have a second bite at the cherry that is The Open. One thing is certain, however, and that is that Norris’ decision to ply his trade in Asia was a masterstroke, even for the biggest sceptic.
Simon promises strong showing in KenyaThabang Simon believes strongly that he will put up a good showing at the new tournament on the Sunshine Tour, the KCB Karen Masters at Karen Country Club in Kenya which tees off next week Thursday. “I have got a good feeling I am going to do well next week,” Simon said as he prepares for the tournament which is sponsored by the Kenya Commercial Bank. “That is pretty sure. I have been there and I know the course. The way I am striking the ball is good. I have got a chance of doing well.” Even though his memories of playing in the East African country are no longer so clear, but he is optimistic that he will again produce good results as he did before. “The last time I played Kenya was in 2009 or 2008, something like that. I played twice or three times on that course. I did well on my first and second year, but I missed the cut in the third year. I was not playing well that year,” he said. But the Soweto Country Club player will have to improve his putting which saw him missing the cut at the Sun City Challenge last month and Big Easy Tour 6 last week. “At Sun City I did not putt well. I hit the ball well, but my putting still needs some attention. I have been struggling with my putting for the past few weeks. I lost at the IGT as well and if I had putted well I could have won that thing. My putting was just out. But from tee to green I am happy. I am hitting a lot of greens and lot of fairways. I will just have to make those putts,” Simon said. The 42-year-old player is pleased with the discipline he introduced into his game of late which he believes helped him to do well on the Big Easy Tour, besides missing the cut at BET 6 last week. He started with sharing 15th at the BET 2, tied for third at the BET 3 and finished tied second at the BET 5. “I have just changed my mindset, just practice, get on the golf course. Just play your normal game. I stopped some other things like alcohol, I cut those things out. I have been striking the ball well, but my mind was not that strong. I just told myself that I have to change that mindset and focus on good golf,” the member of Gary Player Class of 2018-19 said. The Gary Player Class is the Sunshine Tour’s development programme which benefits from the longstanding support of the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB), founded in 1999 by Johann Rupert as the official body for golf development in South Africa, as well as the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation (EEFF) in a collective effort to use golf to improve the lives of disadvantaged South Africans.  
Harding off to try his hand in AsiaOccupying first spot on the Sunshine Tour’s 2018-19 Order of Merit has not only seen Justin Harding rise up the world rankings and command respect wherever he plays on the local circuit, it has also earned him an invitation to play at the Bank BRI Indonesia Open this week. Harding is yet to make his mark on the Asian Tour having missed the cut at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open for three straight years in 2015, 2016 and 2017. This week, however, he has an opportunity to redeem himself at Pondok Indah Golf Course on Thursday. On statistics alone, it is easy to assume Harding has every chance of making a mark on the Asian Tour. His driving accuracy this season so far averages 58.4 percent while he averages 68 percent in hitting greens in regulation. One aspect of his game he will be confident about, however, is making those putts when it counts the most. He is sixth on tour, averaging 92 percent, in birdies made this season. In eSwatini alone, Harding made a total of 26 birdies at Investec Royal Swazi Open over four rounds, and a further 20 birdies plus an eagle in three rounds at the Lombard Insurance Classic. Also, of importance for Harding going into this event will be the knowledge that when he has found himself in the sand, he has managed to save par on 74 percent of his attempts while he seems at home playing the par-threes where he is ranked 10th on the Sunshine Tour with an average of 0.5-under-par. He leads the pack in terms of the stroke average on par-fours with a 0.75-under-par on average. The seven-time Sunshine Tour winner’s best round of the season so far is the 63 he made at Royal Swazi Spa Country Club during the fourth round of the Investec Royal Swazi Open. Other South Africans in the field with Harding are Jbe’ Kruger and Lyle Rowe. Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent, who is riding a rich wave of form currently on the Asian Tour with five top-10s this season, will be looking to get into the top-10 of the Asian Tour Order of Merit from his current 11th spot. Harding ended the year 2017 ranked 712 on the Official World Golf Ranking, but this week he is ranked 166. The Stellenbosch Golf Club player is already only R11,295 short of matching his winnings of R688,428 in the 2017-18 season on the Sunshine Tour and this is ahead of the halfway mark of the season. A good finish in Indonesia this week would give him a good boost for the rest of the year back in South Africa.  
Bezuidenhout, 9 SA players looking for Open spotThere are 11 South African golfers in next week’s Open Championship, and there is one last chance for 10 more to play their way into the 147th edition of the world’s most venerable major championship at Carnoustie. For Jacques Kruyswijk, Dean Burmester, and Christiaan Bezuidenhout, this week’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at Gullane represents an opportunity to get into The Open for the first time in their careers, while Trevor Immelman, Darren Fichardt, Brandon Stone, Richard Sterne, Thomas Aiken, Haydn Porteous and Justin Walters, it’s a chance to play it one more time. Of the three players who have yet to play in The Open, Bezuidenhout had the best finish in last week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, with his share of 19th, and seems to have the game that can adapt best to links golf ahead of the stern challenge that Carnoustie will present. That’s not to say that Burmester, who finished 28th in Ireland, or Kruyswijk, who missed the cut but was clearly full of enthusiasm for the difficulties that the links at Ballyliffin in Ireland offered, will not be able to adapt their big hitting high games to what is required if the wind gets up at either Gullane or Carnoustie. Of the 11 players that are already in at The Open, Louis Oosthuizen, Dylan Frittelli, Ernie Els, George Coetzee, Zander Lombard and Erik van Rooyen will grab the chance to play at Gullane in an attempt to hone their games ahead of Carnoustie. Van Rooyen came close to his maiden European Tour title in Ireland last week, with only a stuttering performance in the final round preventing him from cruising to a victory which seemed inevitable when he led by four shots after 54 holes. He will want to take that experience and grow with hit ahead of The Open. In The Open but missing in Scotland this week are Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace, Shaun Norris and Retief Goosen, as well as amateur Jovan Rebula.  

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