KENYA OPEN GIVES CHRIS LLOYD GLIMPSE INTO FUTURE
Young Englishman Chris Lloyd picked a number of positives from his second participation in Africa’s premier golfing event, sale the Kenya Open Championship that was held at the par 71 Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi between March 28 and April 1, despite failing to put his name in the top 10 finishes.
He was returning to the place which he earmarks as the scene of his first big step as a European Challenge Tour professional when he joined a strong field at Muthaiga Golf Club for the Kenya Open where he managed a joint 14th position after four days of top notch golf that was won by his countryman Seve Benson after a sudden death play-off on the final day.
Lloyd finished on a total of three under par 281 with scores of 71, ask 71, 69 and 70 on each round to pocket 2, 577 Euros (Ksh 296, 355). Lloyd, who turned 20 in February, has shown a maturity beyond his years on the Challenge Tour since joining at the beginning of last year after an impressive amateur career.
The man from Bristol came close to earning a European Tour card in his debut season, advice finishing 28th in the Challenge Tour rankings before the crushing disappointment of missing the cut at The European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage by just one shot last December.
It was a roller coaster year for Lloyd, which began with a respectable 31st place finish in India before an unfortunate sun burn incident left him in hospital in Miami and unable to play the second event in Colombia.
So it was in Kenya, he believed, where it all began in earnest as he shot a six under par 65 on the opening day to lay down a marker as one of the Challenge Tour’s up-and-coming stars.
“I had to pull out of Colombia last year,” he said. “There were about six of us in Miami the week before and the day we were due to fly we were in South Beach in the morning and, being the wisecrack that I was, I decided not to wear any sun cream, so I was in hospital the day after with second degree burns.
“That was quite a start. I had just turned 19, it was my second event and my name was known, but for all the wrong reasons!
“I then played Kenya and that really got me going. I finished quite a way down (tied 40th) but I shot 65 in the first round so that was a real confidence boost for me.
“It didn’t carry on through the week but it gave me the confidence that I could hit a good score out here on Tour. After that I was off and running – I finished second in Italy the month after.
“The first week, in India, I hardly knew anyone and I was just pleased to make my first cut and get my first cheque. Then came the sun burn incident, but Kenya and the first round gave me that boost to take into the season. It freed me up a little bit.
I knew a few more people and I started to settle in and find my feet, get in the comfort zone and then you can just get on with playing golf.”
Getting on with the golf he certainly has done, and an eighth place finish at the Gujarat Kensville Challenge in January gave him an impressive start before he sealed a tied runner-up finish at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia and a 14th joint finish at the Kenya Open is an indication that his getting better by the day.
“I have much higher targets this year,” said Lloyd. “Obviously the ultimate goal is to get your card but I’d like to finish right up there. I finished eighth in India in January and was disappointed not to get a play-off in India, then finished 14th in Kenya, so it is a steady start and hopefully I can continue in that vein.
“I can plan a lot better this year and pick and choose where I want to play and hopefully stay a lot fresher during the season too.