•Campillo says it’s always nice to win a golf tournament, but if you have a name on the trophy with Seve Ballesteros, it’s more special for a Spaniard.”
The high-minded aphorism that “the harder you practice the luckier you get” may have contemporary relevance with the elusive state of the coveted Kenya Open Golf Championship title for local pros.
Spaniard Jorge Campillo’s -18 victory on his third attempt at the par-71 Muthaiga golf and country Club course lends credence to this old adage.
It was nice to see Campillo seal his three DP World Tours (European Tour) on Kenyan soil.
Asked to expound on the element of luck and practice, Campillo recounted: “I remember coming here on the Challenge Tour— my second Challenge Tour event in 2011 and played on this golf course. However, It never crossed my mind even in my wildest dreams that I would come back here and win my third golf tournament on the DP World Tour. It’s such a nice feeling.”
Campillo says it’s always nice to win a golf tournament, but if you have a name on the trophy with Seve Ballesteros, it’s more special for a Spaniard.”
Seve won this event in 1978, with Campillo the fourth Spanish winner after José María Cañizares and Jordi Garcia Pinto in 1984 and 2013 respectively. Campillo classifies golf as one of the most unpredictable things ever on the globe.
“You win now and then the next day you are not that good anymore,” he quips.
But following the performance of local professionals at the 2023 Magical Kenya Open, where youngster Mutahi Kibugu was the sole local golfer to make the cut, the hunt for the MKO title continues.
So prodded to comment on why the coveted MKO title remains elusive to Kenyans, Campillo candidly said that it was about focus and hard work. “Kenyans should continue practicing more and play a lot more in high-profile Tour tournaments. The more they put out, the more luck they have,” he noted.
Jacob Okello came the closest in the 1998 Kenya Open when he lost to Ricardo Gonzalez of Argentina in a playoff.
Jacob would again shine at the 2006 championship, where he finished tied for fifth and again at the 2007 event, where he finished T4. The memorable 1998 play-off came after Okello and the Argentine tied on 12 under par 272 apiece.
Mutahi’s good performance is attributed to the events he played on the Sunshine Tour last year. He used it as a dress rehearsal for the Kenya Open and pulled major surprises at the event at Muthaiga. And following the inspiration, Mutahi, who posted 68-71-71-73 (-1), now wants to win the Kenya Open in two years' time.
“I’m going to take all the positives out of this week, head back down to South Africa and try to pre-Q for some events. Definitely try and play more and more. I’m getting the rhythm and I’m heading in the right direction. I just want to play more tournaments and keep going.”
Mutahi is pretty pleased with how he played over the four days of the tournament. “Yes I did (beat my brother). I’m going to go back home, look him in the eye and tell him ‘do better next year, brother,” Mutahi bragged.
Buoyed by massive home support, 22-year-old Mutahi replicated what his younger brother Njoroge Kibugu achieved at last year’s Magical Kenya Open as the sole Kenyan in the money bracket going into the weekend.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment by our family. Last year was Njoroge and here I am in the money bracket. That last part was all good and I’m sure my brother just wanted me to follow into my footsteps.”
Professional Golfers of Kenya (PGK) chairman CJ Wangai reckons that a sustainable local tour— an event of atleast 20 events in a year is the solution to title drought among Kenyans.
Wangai said that international players, who come for Kenya Open are always in tournament mode, considering they compete in over 25 events annually.
Wangai said: “Once we have a sustainable local pros tour, then we can send our top 5 or 10 to compete in other international tours to give them the exposure that is required for the performance at the high level.”
The PGK boss is happy that junior golf is already taking shape in the country “but without a proper local pros tour all these effortswill go into waste.”
He concludes: “We must empower our local pros through the sustainable tour which will be incorporated with mental coaches, nutritionist and fitness experts among other facets.”