South Africa’s Darren Fichardt teed off for his 400th European Tour event at the Magical Kenya Open on Thursday morning.
Fichardt, one of 15 local players in the field at the Karen Country Club, finished as runner-up at last week’s Qatar Masters, an event he won back in 2003.
At 45 years old, Fichardt is by no means taking his foot off the peddle and is hoping to add more success to his already illustrious career.
‘To have played 400 events is crazy,’ said Fichardt ahead of this week’s event in Nairobi.
“I don’t feel old at all! To play that many events out here, I’m pretty blessed to be out here that long, to play so many events, and for the European Tour to be such a huge part of my life. It’s been a great journey so far and I’m looking forward to the next 400.
‘It’s awesome here. I haven’t been to Kenya, it’s my first time. It’s very African, when we got off the plane on to the bus, African music was playing. It’s amazing and people here are so friendly, it feels awesome to be here.
‘The golf course looks quite tight, looks like the greens are pretty small and quite slopey, so your iron play is going to be sharp and if you miss the green you’re going to be using your lob wedge a lot – I don’t think there will be too many bump-and-runs on these greens. The vegetation is quite dense, so if you miss the fairways I think you’re going to be in quite a lot of trouble.’
Fichardt enjoyed a pretty successful 2020, winning twice on the Sunshine Tour before kickstarting the new year with a bang in Doha last week.
Extra work off the course and better time management between tournaments appear to have boosted the five-time winner on the European Tour.
Without putting more pressure on himself, Fichardt is hopeful that the new approach will lead to even greater success.
‘I had many options to sit around and wait for the tournaments or get stuck into some TPI training and do some hard work on the things that weren’t that great during the events back home.
‘I did a bit of work and I didn’t know what to expect this year – I came out with lots of swing thoughts and a lot of little fiddly things with my chipping. Through my first nine at Qatar I felt very uneasy, didn’t feel comfortable, and then everything clicked.
‘The second round my swing started coming right and by the third round everything was good. I struggled a bit on the final round but it was still good to shoot level in those conditions. Having not been in competitive golf for so long, I was quite happy with the result. It was good and that’s why I’m happy to be out here playing two in a row.
‘You try not to get the expectations too high and put too much pressure on yourself, just go out there and play one shot at a time and do the best I can do and see where it gets me. Everything is pretty much there, so just don’t put too much pressure on myself to perform and it should be good,’ he added.