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Magical Kenya Open presents exciting field

Jeremy Awori
Absa CEO Jeremy Awori (left) and Kenya Open Golf Limited Chairman Peter Kanyago enjoys a Golf Cart ride on February 25 2020. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO 

The 2020 Magical Kenya Open, being played for the second time as a full European Tour event, tees off at the Karen Country Club from the March 12-15, 2020 at the Karen Country Club.

The championship will offer a total prize fund of Euros 1.1 million (Sh126m), with Euros 183,330 (Sh21 million) going to the winner and 2,000 points towards the Race to Dubai ranking.

With the cancellation of the Volvo China Open and the Maybank Championship, due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Magical Kenya Open has continued to attract the best European Tour, Kenyan and regional players.

The Kenyan delegation to the championship will be led by veteran golfer Dismas Indiza and Greg Snow who are both sponsored by Johnnie Walker and whose performance through the 2019/20 Safari Golf Tour season has been exceptional.

Indiza and Snow will be looking to erase the memories of 2019 where they both painfully missed the cut by a single shot. Other notables who also missed the 2019 cut included India’s Shubhankar Sharma, South Africa’s Erik Van Rooyen and the 2018 Kenya Open champion Lorenzo Gagli from Italy.

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Galgi will be joined at the 2020 Magical Kenya Open by four other past champions – Guido Migliozzi, Italy, 2020, Aaron Rai, England, 2017, Sebastian Soderberg, Sweden, 2016 and Haydn Porteous, South Africa, 2015.

Simon Ngige and Jastus Madoya who finished T25 and T72 respectively will be in action next week hoping to improve their previous performance. Ngige was superb in 2019 returning three rounds under par and banking Euros10,615 (Sh1.21 million). And although Ngige did not win a single Safari Golf Tour event, he was consistent through the season finishing second in the overall rankings and we can only hope that he peaks next week and wins the tournament.

Madoya is a cool operator, unassuming but methodical, he doesn’t stand out in a crowd, but he is a good golfer and I have a feeling that this man may still surprise us all at Karen. Other Kenyan pros who qualified through the Safari Golf Tour include Erick ooko, David Wakhu, CJ Wangai and Riz Charania.

Two other regional golfers, Nigeria’s Andrew Odoh and Zimbabwe’s Robson Chinhoi also qualified through the Safari Golf Tour.

The Kenya Open Golf Ltd has also invited the 2019 KCB Karen Masters champion, SAs Toto Thimba Jnr. Toto was dominant at the Karen Masters finishing with a score of 26 under par that included 26 birdies and two eagles. Toto will find fairly similar conditions at the Kenya Open – fast greens, soft fairways and deep rough.

The only difference will be at the 3rd hole which plays as a long par-4 for the Kenya Open, turning it from a cast iron birdie opportunity to a bogey hole. Other invites include Kenya’s Kopan Timbe who finished 9th on the Safari Golf Tour, Philip Kasozi from the Uganda Golf Club and Jayden Schaper from South Africa. Schaper was the number one ranked SA amateur in 2019 and is the first junior in South African golfing history to achieve the ‘grand slam’ of Nomads SA Boys titles, winning the U13, U15 and U17 tournaments and the elusive double at the Nomads SA Boys U19 Championship as a 16-year-old at Langebaan Golf Club in 2017 (www.compleatgolfer.com).

Schaper finished T6 at the 2020 South Africa Open and will celebrate his 19th birthday on Sunday March 15; what a birthday present it would be for the young man to win his first European Tour title!

Kenya’s elite amateurs in the field include Samuel Chege, Daniel Nduva, Paul Muchangi, Taimur Malik (16 years) and Mutahi Kibugu (18 years). Tanzania’s Joseph Victor, winner of the Kenya Amateur Stroke Play Championship will also be in the field. Hopefully our elite amateurs can pick up a few tips from Schaper.

Other notables in the 2020 field include Category-3 players, Sami Valimaki, Finland, Justin Harding, SA, who finished T2 at the 2019 Kenya Open, China’s Ashun Wu and Frenchman Alexander Levy.

The Magical Kenya Open is presented by Absa.

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