For the first time, this year’s Barclays Kenya Open will feature two foreign amateur golfers when the Challenge Tour tees off on Thursday at the Par-72 Karen Country Club.
Ugandan youngster Ronald Otile and France’s Romaine Langasque will join four local based players led by national golf team captain Kenneth Bollo of Royal Nairobi Golf Club.
South Africa based junior golfer Mathew Wahome, 2015 Kenya Golf Union (KGU) golfer of the year John Karichu from Limuru Country Club and John Kariuki complete the list of six.
Tournament Director Patrick Obath said the slots are reserved for amateurs to promote their golfing skills.
“KGU select their top amateurs to participate in the Kenya Open and this year they have entered four elite amateur players including one junior player. In 2015 Otile won both the Uganda Amateur Open and the Tusker Malt Uganda Golf Open beating all professionals in the process. We are looking at a truly talented young man.
“Langasque on the other hand is the top French amateur golfer, second in Europe and sixth in the world. This young man will not be in Kenya to win the amateur trophy but he will be coming to win the Championship,” Obath underscored.
The top amateur at the Kenya Open is awarded the Amateur Silver Salver but doesn’t win any cash award.
Among the winners who have won it include Boniface Simwa who was the top amateur in 2011, Simon Ngige clinched it in 2007, Kumar Dhall was the amateur winner in 2001, Ajay Shah in 1999 while Jacob Okello lifted it in 1994.
The event got underway on Tuesday with the Pro-Am where Patrick Ndwati and his professional counterpart Edouard Dubois finished top.
The event sponsored by Coca Cola was attended by 64 professionals and 61 amateurs with Kenya’s top golfers Greg Snow and Riz Charania in attendance.
According to the Kenya Open Golf Ltd (KOGL) Chairman, Peter Kanyago, it will be a busy week at the venue of the 48th edition of the Open.
“The championship week is an extremely busy time and all systems are in place to deliver a great tournament. The green keeping staff at Karen will be putting in place their final preparations to ensure the golf course is in true championship condition.
“For the first time we have moved the tournament score board to the village and visitors will be able to follow the progress of their favorite players as they eat and relax at the village.
The first round of the Championship proper will take place on Thursday and the second round will be held on Friday.
All 156 golfers will participate on the opening two days with only the top 60 golfers proceeding to play in the third and fourth rounds.
“We expect an exciting finish on Sunday and we hope that our top Kenyan professionals will be in contention for the title,” Kanyago added.
The tournament got a sponsorship boost from MultiChoice Kenya via DStv and SuperSport, who injected Sh7.5 m.
“Over Sh3million of this amount will go towards broadcast rights and production while the remaining Sh4.5 million will cover administrative costs incurred by organisers of the week-long event,” said MultiChoice Kenya Corporate Communications Manager, Philip Wahome.