Bekker takes search for victory to Kenya

Oliver Bekker has been knocking on the door for a while now, and he takes his campaign for a maiden professional victory to Kenya this week as he plays in the Barclays Kenya Open on the European Challenge Tour.

Bekker, who was runner-up to Warren Abery in last year’s Nashua Masters, has had 12 top-10 finishes since his professional career started in 2008.

His latest was his fifth-place finish in the Telkom PGA Championship behind George Coetzee in February, which was a performance which spoke of a new-found grittiness to his game.

He is one of nine South Africans – and a further six Sunshine Tour members from other southern African and European countries – who will tee it up at Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi from Thursday.

In the Telkom PGA Championship, he made just three bogeys and a double during the four rounds, as he produced three rounds of seven-under-par 65.

It was just the second round during which he was unable to get a roll on, and two of his bogeys came during that one-under 71.

And it was his final round which was the eye-opener: He started slowly as he battled to make up ground on the leaders, and he turned in one-under 35.

But as he headed for home, the floodgates opened. He picked up a birdie on 10, and then, on his final four holes, went birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie to close in 30.

It wasn’t enough to win, but the 26-year-old from Stellenbosch could sense that the breakthrough is imminent.

Besides the Challenge Tour opposition he will face in Nairobi, he has to contend with the likes of Michiel Bothma, Tyrone Ferreira, Jake Roos, Branden Grace and Alex Haindl, all of whom have won on the Sunshine Tour.

Josh Cunliffe, Tyrone Mordt and Daniel Greene are the other South Africans in the field.

Zimbabweans TC Charamba and Akil Yousuf, Kenyan Dismas Indiza, Zambia’s Kangwine Chiluba, Switzerland’s Andre Bossert and Neil Cheetham of England are the other Sunshine Tour members in the field.

And, while it doesn’t count towards the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, Bekker will be hoping that he converts his South African form into a victory in Kenya.

It will set him up nicely for the rest of the year on the Sunshine Tour.

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