Aaron Rai returns to the scene of an emotional victory and one of his career highlights at this week’s Magical Kenya Open presented by Johnnie Walker, an event which he won on the Challenge Tour in 2017 in front of his Kenyan-born mother and jubilant crowds.
The Englishman has a special connection to this week’s venue Karen Country Club, where he triumphed four years ago:
It feels like a home away from home here, my mum was born here and my sister lives here in Karen now. It very much has a home feel for me, it’s always going to be a special place with the memories I’ve had here down the years – I don’t think that’s something I’ll ever forget so I think any time that I’m here to play golf or here full stop is a blessing.
It was his first of three Challenge Tour victories, and the win came on Mothers’ Day as his own mother watched on proudly, having returned to her birthplace for the first time since leaving as a teenager. Additionally, Rai’s sister now calls Karen, the neighbourhood in the outskirts of Nairobi which hosts this week’s event, her home.
While the crowds will not be there to support him this week, Rai is feeling confident that his connections to the club, and the country, can give him a timely boost.
Guido Migliozzi of Italy defends his title this week, two years after winning his first of two titles in the 2019 season at Karen Country Club – the event was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Darren Fichardt will reach a notable milestone on his home continent as the South African makes his 400th European Tour event, while Englishman Sam Horsfield – a two-time winner in the 2020 Race to Dubai – returns to action for his first appearance of 2021 after an injury lay-off.