By the time you read this, the Magical Kenya Open will be well under way at the Karen Country Club and for the first time, the European Tour will be played in our beautiful sporting country.
The Kenya Open has been played since 1967 and as a European Challenge Tour since 1991 and now in 2019, the event joins the main European Tour, bringing with it a few major changes.
One of the biggest changes to the event is that for four straight days and for about six hours a day, the Magical Kenya Open will be transmitted on live TV to a global audience of over 500 million homes on over 27 different TV channels.
It is anticipated that global coverage, estimated at about 2,200 broadcast hours, will have a huge impact on Kenya’s global brand, tourism and particularly golf tourism. Kenya is uniquely positioned as a golf tourism destination – beautiful golf courses from Kisumu to Kilifi, from Nyeri to Kericho and Eldoret. In and around the city of Nairobi, golf tourists are spoilt for choice with over 10 courses to choose from within a 50-kilometre or so radius.
At the Kenyan Coast, golf tourists can enjoy the Vipingo Ridge, Nyali, Leisure Lodge and even the challenging Mombasa Front Course – the only links course in Kenya. The second change is around the calibre of players who play in the main tour. The European Tour and the PGA Tour are the world’s two biggest and their members include the very top players in the world. And whilst the Kenya Open in its first edition as a member of the main tour may not attract the very top players, the calibre of those in the field is still impressive.
The immediate former Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjorn is here, as is SA’s Haydn Porteous who won the 2015 edition of the Kenya Open. India’s Shubhankar Sharma is here and so is Germany’s Marcel Siem. The 2018 Kenya Open Champion, Lorenzo Gagli is also in the field alongside Kenya’s Greg Snow, Dismas Indiza, Tony Omuli, Riz Charania and the very talented amateurs Daniel Nduva, Kibugu Mutahi and Bradley Mogire.
Across the African continent, the event will be beamed live by SuperSport and in Kenya a local FTA partner will make the signal available freely to viewers.
At the time of going to press, the first round was underway at Karen and leading players had posted scores of 3-under par after 9-holes.
The top-28 were at Par or better and the top-60 were at 3-over par or better. At the end of Round-2, today, the field will be cut down to the Top-60 players and it is expected that a good number of our local professionals will make it into the weekend.
At the venue, a huge spectator village has been set up with plenty of food and drinks for the fans. The gates open at 6am daily and the evenings are packed with great entertainment including performances by MoTown, led by June Gachui and the Nairobi Horns Project today and South Africa’s Mafikizolo on tomorrow. Your Kenya Open ticket allows you admission to these great concerts.
The event runs until Sunday March 17 at the Karen Country Club.
See you at the Magical Kenya Open.