Tour Insider: AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open | Asian Tour

Tour Insider: AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open

Published on December 2, 2019

By Olle Nordberg, Former Asian Tour and European Tour professional

The Tournament

The €1,000,000 (approximately US$1,152,000) AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open is tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and Sunshine Tour, and has been on the Asian Tour schedule since it’s inception in 2015. The event has been the scene of considerable success for Asian Tour players during the four editions.

In 2016 Korean Jeunghun Wang birdied the 72nd hole to win the event by one shot over fellow Asian Tour player Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh, preventing the latter to become the first Bangladeshi to win an event co-sanctioned with the European Tour.

Arjun Atwal of India came very close to claiming the trophy in 2017 when he birdied the last hole to get into a playoff against South African Dylan Frittelli, who would eventually win with a birdie on the first extra hole.

Last year it was Asian Tour player Kurt Kitayama of the U.S. who drew the longest straw, winning the event by two shots over Chikkarangappa S. from India and France’s Matthieu Pavon. It was Kitayama’s first win on Tour and he followed it up a few months later with a win in Oman on the European Tour.

Another memorable moment came in 2015 when Spanish Asian Tour player Javi Colomo came to the par-four ninth hole on Friday, his last hole of the day, needing a birdie to make the cut. Instead of making the necessary birdie to make the cut, Colomo aced the 322-yard hole with a driver to record the first ever hole-in-one on a par-four on either of the three sanctioning tours.

The Course

This year’s venue Heritage Golf Club in Domaine de Bel Hombre was also used in 2015 and 2017 and has been voted as one of the top-10 courses in Africa. The Peter Matkovich designed course will play as a par-72 at 7,106 yards from the championship tees.

Situated right on the south coast of the island of Mauritius, players should expect wind to be a factor this week.

The Contenders

Shubhankar Sharma

The 2018 Order of Merit winner came close to winning his third title a few weeks ago at the Turkish Airlines Open when he missed the six-man playoff by only two shots after a final round 64, tying the low round of the day.

Except for the tied-seventh finish in Turkey, Sharma also had a tied-seventh at the Italian Open, another Rolex Series event, and could be on the way back to the form that won him the Joburg Open and Maybank Championship in the span of a few months in 2017-2018.

John Catlin

Having recently won the Thailand Open in a three-man play-off after an immaculate approach to set up a birdie on the first extra hole, Catlin seems to be returning to the form that saw him win three Asian Tour events in 2018.

After playing the European Tour for most of this season but failing to secure a card at their Qualifying School a couple weeks ago, the Hua Hin based American will be looking for a win this week to get himself back on the European Tour.

Johannes Veerman

A player that did secure his European Tour status at the recent Qualifying School after closing with rounds of 67, 67, 66, and 66 to grab card number 13, Veerman showed remarkable heart by overcoming a rough 74, 74 start to his campaign.

The American quickly followed it up with a tied-seventh at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa last week and seems likely to continue his good run this week in Mauritius.

Shiv Kapur

Having narrowly missed out on notching his fifth Asian Tour victory twice in his last two events after being one of the play-off participants at the Thailand Open, and double bogeying the final hole at the Panasonic Open India to lose by one, Kapur would definitely be the sentimental favorite this week.

Obviously in good form at the moment and coming off a week’s rest at home, Kapur could erase the disappointment of the two recent close calls with a win this week at Heritage Golf Club.

Justin Harding

The two-time Asian Tour winner has been playing a Major and top-tier-event heavy schedule much of this year, thanks to an incredible run in 2018 and early part of 2019 that saw his Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) rise from 716th in early 2018 to a peak of 42nd in May this year.

His year also included a win on the European Tour in Qatar in March and a tied-12th at the Masters, the latter guaranteeing the South African an invitation back to Augusta in 2020.

Harding was also in the mix for a win last week at Leopard Creek on the back nine on Sunday, until a missed birdie opportunity from just off the green on the par-five 13th and a double-bogey on the 14th derailed his challenge and meant he had to settle for a tied-seventh place.