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Monday, April 24, 2017

Local pros upbeat

Photos of the 2017 Barclays Kenya Open winner - Swede Sebastian SoderbergWith former BBK Chairman Francis Okello, CS Hassan Wario, President Uhuru Kenyatta, BBK CEO Jeremy Awori and KOGL Chairman Peter Kanyago. /COURTESY
Photos of the 2017 Barclays Kenya Open winner - Swede Sebastian SoderbergWith former BBK Chairman Francis Okello, CS Hassan Wario, President Uhuru Kenyatta, BBK CEO Jeremy Awori and KOGL Chairman Peter Kanyago. /COURTESY

As Kenyans resume the chase for the elusive Barclays Kenya Open Championship at Muthaiga Golf Club later this week, local professional golfers believe the recent build up tournaments will come in handy in their quest for the most coveted golfing accolade in the country.

“Standards have now been set and only the sky’s the limit for us. I’m not promising heaven but I have a feeling that Kenyans will play their hearts out. We have been through several tournaments including Jamii and Karen Masters. At Karen, we had the opportunity of playing against Challenge Tour players which was quite encouraging. We believe all this will translate into results,” said Professional Golfers of Kenya captain CJ Wangai. Wangai singled out Greg Snow and Dismas Indiza as the pros carrying the country’s hopes.

“Indiza and Snow have been playing really well lately. Snow was the best placed Kenyan in fourth place at the just ended KCB Karen Masters with a score of 7 under,” said Wangai. The Kenyan team was selected over a three-event point earning championship dubbed ‘Road to Kenya Open’.

The 2017 Kenya Open will clock up a number of notable landmarks this year, having first been played 50 years ago. Also reaching an impressive mark this year is local hero Jacob Okello, who will be competing in the prestigious event for the 20th time.

“The Kenyan team is a blend of veteran players and youngsters. Names like Jacob (Okello) can hardly be ruled out, having played in the Kenya Open for two decades. Youngsters like Snow and Stefan (Andersen) will also inject lots of quality to the game,’ said Wanga.

Okello is the most successful Kenyan pro having lost the 1998 Kenya Open title on playoffs. This year’s edition of Kenya Open returns to its original home at Muthaiga and marks the 25 years as part of the European Challenge Tour.

The 2017 edition has attracted quite a number of big names including defending champion Sweden’s Sebastien Soderberg, who will be seeking to defend his title against the Tour bigwigs. Jake Roos, who also won at Karen in 2014 is back in Kenya for another shot at the prestigious trophy and so is Jordi Garcia Pinto, who was victorious one year earlier.

Muthaiga will hold happy memories for Robert Dinwiddie, the winner in 2010, Gary Boyd, who was victorious in 2009, and Maarten Lafeber, whose win came ten years before that in 1999. No player has won the Kenyan Open more than once apart from Maurice Bembridge, who had back-to-back victories in 1968 and 1969 before adding a third win ten years later. The million-dollar question as Kenyans brace for their premier event is—will any of this year’s pros join Bembridge’s exclusive club?

Kenya Open proper starts on Thursday through to Sunday and will be preceded by Pro-Am events.


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