•Last year’s Day One proceedings saw Mutahi’s brother Njoroge lead the Kenyan campaign with a -1.
•He revealed their childhood rivalry is what prompted him to keep focus and qualify for the MKO this season after missing out last year.
Six birdies and three bogeys are all the leading Kenyan Mutahi Kibugu needed to lead the local charge on the opening day of the 2023 Magical Kenya Open at the par 71 Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi on Thursday.
Last year’s Day One proceeding saw Mutahi’s brother Njoroge lead the Kenyan campaign with a -1.
But on Thursday, it was Mutahi’s turn to rule the home score tied for 20th with three under par 68.
Ahead of the tournament, Mutahi had admitted to his intense rivalry with his younger brother Njoroge, 19, who was the best-placed Kenyan in the event last season.
He revealed their childhood rivalry is what prompted him to keep focus and qualify for the MKO this season after missing out last year.
“I think my brother looks very confident to post good results in this one too. I’m so sure he is going to do well— a more special performance than in 2022. It will be nice to see what he shoots,” Mutahi underscored.
Second among Kenyans were Dismas Indiza and Greg Snow on level par while Simon Ngige of Thika and Njoroge Kibugu are on 1 over par 72 after the first 18 holes.
And going into the much-anticipated Friday cutline, where Mutahi tees off at 12.40 pm, the youngster says he will stick to the same game plan he had on Day One.
“I’m just going to do what I’m doing; playing to my best numbers and focusing on my strengths. I just feel I’m good to go,” he said.
Asked about the course conditions, Mutahi said: “I think the course was playing so well today. It was very accessible, I did well on the fairways where the back nine favoured me,” he said in an interview.
“If you hit the greens right, you are sure of the birdies, if you do it wrong you were assured of a couple of bogeys,” he said.
Mutahi admitted the greens were quite fast on the down sections of the pristine Muthaiga course but were quite moderate on other zones. He thinks the greens will pose a challenge to handle in the coming days due to the dry, sunny Nairobi weather.
He said he had quite a struggle in hole 15, where he missed the pin position by a whisker, with a very catastrophic end result.
“This was a difficult stretch to tackle. I’m sad I got a careless bogey over there, but again the back nine of the course was a much easier side. It had two reachable par fives and short par fours where one could definitely turn a good score when starting with that side of the course,” he stated.