Mar 20th, 2021
Hend and Samooja out front in Kenya
Pair share one shot lead at the Magical Kenya Open
Photography: Getty Images
The short and tricky nature of Karen Country Club has resulted in a tightly bunched field after the opening two rounds, but Australian Hend and Finland’s Samooja did enough to edge one shot ahead of the rest on 11 under par.
Three-time European Tour winner Hend dropped a shot at the last to miss out on the outright lead but a seven-under-par round of 64 underlined a return to form after three successive missed cuts.
"I played quite solid, hit a lot of the par fours and par fives in regulation so I had some tap in birdies," said Hend.
"I’ve been a little inconsistent and it’s a little bit tricky out there so obviously I shot a good score but I missed a lot of putts so hopefully I can improve on that at the weekend."
Samooja, meanwhile, birdied his final hole – the ninth – for a five-under-par 66, the 33-year-old chasing a maiden European Tour victory at an event which has yielded good results in the past – he finished tied for sixth at Karen two years ago while he also earned a top three on the Challenge Tour at this event in 2018, at Muthaiga Country Club.
“I got off to a flying start, opening with three birdies, and then I was struggling a little bit to get quality shots," said Samooja.
"I don’t know why but I played the sixth hole really badly. It was just a bit of back luck from the rough and then a bit unlucky with the second shot, coming back into the bunker and then I struggled with the short game."
Scots Richie Ramsay and Connor Syme share third place with Dean Burmester of South Africa on 10 under par, with 38 more players within six shots of the lead heading into the final two days in Nairobi.