NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 17 – Italian Guido Migliozzi held off stiff challenges from Justin Harding, Louis de Jager and Adri Arnaus to be crowned the 2019 Magical Kenya Open at the Par 71 Muthaiga Golf Club as the annual event played host to a first European Tour.
Kenya’s best finisher was Simon Ngugi who finished 25th overall in only his third cut for the final round.
Migliozzi, 20, had his campaign effectively sewn up when his challengers failed conquer his 16 under par 268 gross total in the last three holes.
The Qualifying School graduate was in uncharted territory at Karen Country Club, playing just his 14th European Tour event with no previous top tens to his name.
He has three wins on the Alps Tour, however, and the Italian drew on those experiences to card a 69 and get to 16 under, one shot clear of playing partner Adri Arnaus and South Africans Louis de Jager and Justin Harding.
He made up for his compatriot Lorenzo Gagli who won last year’s event in a three-way playoff at Muthaiga. Gagli couldn’t make the cut in Kenya this time round after failing to make the +2 cut on Friday.
The young Italian carded a two-under-par 69 on a tense, gripping final day to win by a single shot before an enthusiastic crowd led by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
This went down as his first European Tour win and indeed first top 10 on any major circuit, having graduated through Qualifying School, prior to which his three victories had all come on the Alps Tour.
The last round yesterday witnessed a dramatic finish as four players sat at the top of a congested leaderboard heading into the closing stages.
Adri Arnaus and Guido Migliozzi entered the final round leading at 14 under and they stayed there at the turn, with Louis de Jager and Kalle Samooja joining them at the summit having played ten holes.
India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar was then at 13 under, a shot clear of last week’s winner Justin Harding and Frenchman Romain Langasque.
The four leaders were all looking for their maiden European Tour victories as the event in Nairobi made a dramatic European Tour debut.
Bhullar put his tee shot to 15 feet on the par three second and a wonderful approach to closer range on the par four next meant he was in a tie for the lead.
Spaniard Arnaus went just over the back of the second green and failed to get up and down and, with Bhullar flying the fourth green off the tee and leaving his second in the rough for a double bogey, Migliozzi was the solo leader.
Samooja made a smart par save on the first and an 18 foot putt on the second had him within one of top spot, with playing partner De Jager dropping a shot on the same hole.
Arnaus then had a terrible piece of luck as his second shot at the third hit the flag and went off the green, leading to a bogey.
Finn Samooja had bogeyed the fourth in the first three rounds and he made it an unwanted full house on Sunday to hand Migliozzi a two shot lead.
-16 Guido Migliozzi (Italy)
-15 Adri Arnaus (Spain) , Justin Harding (RSA), Louis De Jager (RSA)
-14 Bhullar Gungajeet (India)
-13 Kaale Samooja(Finland), Romain Langasque (France)
-10 Liam Johnston (UK-Scotland)