Did I tell you September would be an exciting month for golf? If I did not, allow me to repeat – September is going to be sizzling hot for golf. The month kicked off with two exciting events in Kenya – one was the Karen Challenge, a 54-hole, two-day amateur stroke play championship that is part of the Kenya Amateur Golf Championship series and two, the Safari Tour held its second event at the Vet Lab Sports Club.
At Karen, Simon Njoroge from the Railway Golf Club was victorious with a total gross score of 5-over par 221 beating Karen’s Reuben Njoroge by one shot. Vet’s Mike Kisia and Limuru’s John Karichu were joint second on 223 whilst Moses Kisia from Golf Park and Paul Muchangi from Limuru were joint fourth on 228.
And whilst these elite amateurs may be in celebration mode, a look at the analysis of their scores is not pretty. For example, in the first round of the event, only four birdies were recorded on the first hole, an easy Par-4 by all standards. The second and third holes at Karen are Par-5s, yet only three and 6 birdies were recorded respectively. Through the three rounds, only one-under par round was recorded and two-level par rounds, these are not good statistics for a group of 64 top amateurs from across our country; indeed they could be termed as “shocking” statistics. Our elite amateur players have a lot of homework, they must do better.
At Vet Lab, professionals from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania teed it up for the second leg of the recently launched Safari Tour. At stake was a total prize kitty of Sh1m. Going into the fourth round of competitive golf, Greg Snow held a sizeable four-stroke lead over Dismas Indiza and a 5-stroke lead over Sujan Shah. Through the fourth and final round, Indiza demonstrated his prowess, clawing back Snow’s lead and forcing a play-off. The sudden death play-off was held on the Par-4 first, the Par-4 17th and Par-4 18th and in the end an errant tee shot from Indiza cost him the championship. With this victory, Snow banked the winners purse of Sh150,000, Indiza took home Sh100,000 and Shah pocketed Sh80,000.
The trio of Snow, Indiza and Shah finished under par, and claimed the bonus prize for doing so; it is also worth noting that all the players in the top 10 finished within eight strokes of level par. According to Patrick Obath, the Safari Tour tournament director, the professionals are playing better. “We are only on our second event on the Safari Tour calendar and already you can feel the excitement amongst our professionals! There is an air of determination and passion; you can see the will to play better, to perform at a higher level and the desire to help one another as a group,” he said. “I believe that by February 2019, our guys will be registering more under par rounds, I am convinced.”
Among the visiting professionals, Tanzania’s Nuru Mollel and Elisante Lembris finished T11 and 19th respectively whilst Uganda’s Phillip Kasozi finished a commendable 18th.
The third leg of the Safari Tour will be held at the Limuru Country Club from October 27 to October 31, 2018. Before then, all East African professionals will participate in the 77th Uganda Open from September 25 to September 29, 2018, at the Entebbe Club. The East Africans will be joined by 19 Pros from Zimbabwe, including Kenya Open veteran Charamba Tongoona and Da Costa Roy. Another four Pros from Zambia will also be in the field and three South African Pros. The Uganda Open includes a Ladies Open competition next week, the Amateur Open a week after from September 18 and the main event from September 25
If you will not be travelling to Entebbe for the Uganda Open, then you must travel to Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Paris for the 42nd edition of the Ryder Cup.
The Ryder Cup and the Uganda Open will close the month of September and as we follow golf locally, regionally and internationally, let us play our part in supporting our local Pros, they are doing their best, its our turn to return the favour.