Keeping Score

Benjamin Hebert looks for 1st victory on European Tour

Frenchman shoots 7-under 64 for 1-stroke lead in Magical Kenya Open, the 1st of 2 consecutive events in Nairobi

217: Number of previous starts on the European Tour without a victory for France’s Benjamin Hebert, who shot 7-under 64 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead at the Magical Kenya Open in Nairobi. Hebert birdied the par-4 18th hole at Karen Country Club in the nation's capital to break out of an eight-man tie for the lead. “It was a fantastic day,” said Hebert, 34, who ranks No. 161 in the world. “I played very solid all day long. It’s been a long time since it has been like this. I played well all day, so I’m very happy. My strategy worked well. I didn’t play too aggressive or hit many drivers.” After he made bogey on the opening hole, Hebert birdied four of the next six holes. He played the consecutive par 5s on the back nine, Nos. 11 and 12, in 4 under, capped by a 15-foot eagle putt at the 12th. Hebert has posted only one result better than 50th, a T-16 at Abu Dhabi, in four starts this year. Among the seven players tied for second, England’s Sam Horsfield shot 6-under 65 in his first start of 2021 after tearing a back disk last year. American Julian Suri held a share of ninth place at 66, one stroke ahead of countryman Kurt Kitayama. Among the 18 Kenyans in the 156-man field, Ooku Erick Obura and amateur Taimur Malik led the home favorites with 2-under 69s. The Magical Kenya Open is the first of two consecutive European Tour stops in the Kenyan capital. Next week’s Kenya Savannah Classic will be played Tuesday through Friday at Karen Country Club (scores).

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