Former Barclays Kenya Open winners Gary Boyd (2009), Robert Dinwiddle (2010) and Sebastian Soderberg (2016) lead the contingent of foreign players for this year’s event later this month at the Muthaiga Golf Club as the bonanza marks 50 years since inception.
The three will lead a high-calibre list of foreign players, who have expressed interest to take part in this year’s tournament, and whose participation in the tourney is now awaiting ratification by the European Challenge Tour.
Englishman Gary won the 2009 Kenya Open with a total gross score of 13-under 271, which was a personal improvement from the previous year, where he had finished fifth with a round score of 6-under 278. Gary also featured at the Kenya Open in 2014, 2015 and last year, where he finished 63rd.
Fellow Englishman, Robert Dinwiddle, won the 2010 edition of the Kenya Open with a 12-under 272 gross score with his other outings at the tournament having been in 2007 (82nd position), 2002 (22nd) and last year at the Muthaiga, where he finished 41st with a total gross score of 4-under 280.
Sweden’s Sebastian Soderberg won the 2016 Barclays Kenya Open with a gross score of 18-under 270 to set the tournament’s second-best score in the Championship’s history. He has featured at the tournament on two other occasions—2015 when he finished 104 and last year, placing 154th.
Notable names in the roster of foreign players expected to take part in this year’s tournament include—two-time Challenge Tour winner, Richard McEvoy, who also won the 2017 Scottish Hydro Challenge and the 2005 Panasonic Panama Open tourney and three-time Challenge Tour and one-time European Tour champion, Roope Kakko. Roope has won the Madeira Islands Open (twice); the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic and the Volvo Finnish Open.
Other foreign nationals expected to take part at this year’s Kenya Open include Swede Anton Karlsson, Frenchman Antoine Rozne, Ugandan Fred Wanzala, Rwandese Ernest Ndayinsenga and Nigerian Andrew Oche Odoh.
This year, the tournament will also feature six South African professional players, who play in the Sunshine Tour. The six South Africans include, Oliver Bekker (7-time Sunshine-Tour-related tournament winner), Ockie Strydom, Louis de Jager, Jaco Ahlers, Neil Schietekat and Peter Karmis, who is ranked 13th overall best player in Africa. The six will be making their debut at the Kenya Open and are expected to mount a formidable challenge among the foreign players.
Speaking at the sidelines of the ‘Kenya Open At 50 golf tournament’ at the Muthaiga over the weekend, Kenya Open tournament director, Patrick Obath, attributed the enhanced interest from foreign players to the increased prize money this year, which has raised the profile of the tournament. “This year’s total prize kitty of €500,000 has seen us receive enhanced interest from a high-calibre list of players from across the world. We believe their participation will enhance the quality of golf that will be played at the tournament,” he said.
The Kenya Open has slots for 156 players; 106 of whom are selected on merit through the European Challenge Tour and 50 selected by the Kenya Open Golf Limited featuring Kenyan and regional professionals as well as local amateurs.