Rokoine in lead
Muthaiga’s Nicholas Rokoine maintained his dogged campaign in pursuit of Order of Merit honours after taking the overnight lead on Day One of the KCB Advantage Banking Grand Finale golf extravaganza. Rokoine led the pack of 54 regional professionals by a score of 3 under par 68 as action teed off at Nyali Club. However, his impressive score caught the entire field by surprise.
While the bulk of the field posted unimpressive scores due to what they termed “tricky pin positions”, Rokoine survived as he cleared the ground with all and sundry. But the much-talked-about golfer was Mumias professional Dismas Indiza, who was left to rue an excruciating round of 9. Indiza’s woes started off when he hit a quadro-bogey on the par 4 hole 9. “I just saw the ball plunge into the rough and it was really frustrating for me,” recalled Indiza.
Thika’s Simon Ngige was not badly off either. He posted level par upon eclipsing four players (Windsor’s Brian Njoroge, Jacob Okello, David Wakhu and Rwandese E. Ruterena) by a single shot. On his way up, Rokoine shot 34 in the front nine and repeated this score in the back nine. He parred the first four holes but went a notch higher with two birdies on preceding holes 5 and 6. Later on, Rokoine sunk an eagle on the par 5 hole 11 though he dropped a shot on the par 4 hole 13.
Yesterday’s play witnessed somewhat higher scores which didn’t go down well with the pros. They attributed the predicament to the course set up—from the tees to the greens—which they felt were positioned badly. “Majority of the greens’ pin positions were difficult,” said Hesborn Kutwa. Meanwhile, history was made in North Coast this morning when 54 regional pros teed-off at par 71 Nyali Golf and Country Club. This marked the start of the four-round KCB Grand Finale which ends on Saturday.
Apart from the prestigious Kenya Open which brings together players from all over the globe, the KCB Grand Finale goes down in the folklore as the event with the highest number of pros to ever play a golf tournament in this region. Last year’s Grand Finale featured 43 regional pros.
Organisers have also lined up the Pro Am to run on Friday, giving amateurs an opportunity to rub shoulders with the pros. Professional Golfers of Kenya (PGK) captain Peter Njagi said 25 players will make the cut after today’s play. “Those who fail to make the cut will be allowed to play Friday’s Pro-Am in the afternoon while those who make the cut will play the pro-Am in the morning,” said Njagi.
One of the major attractions this year is veteran Tanzanian professional veteran player Salim Mwanyenza, 65, who celebrated his 42nd anniversary as a member of Dar Gymkhana Club this month. Mwanyenza teed off from the 10th tee (at 9.20am) alongside Kenyan duo of Peter Njagi and S. Kahindi and played a round of 8 over par 79.
Addis Ababa based Ethiopian lone- ranger Haile Ghebreeghziabher was all smiles as he also teed-off from the 10th tee together with Kenyans David Wakhu and Fred Kamau. “We are looking forward to some great competition considering the fact that all the top pros from the region are here,” said Ghebree.