Local golfer Erick Ooko Obura tees off during the Magical Kenya Open tournament at Karen Country Club on March 19, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]
Kenya hosted two consecutive European Tour golf events that ended on Friday at the pristine Karen Country Club in Nairobi.
The 52nd edition of the Magical Kenya Open was won by 35-year-old Justin Harding from South Africa on the 21st under par 263.
Likewise, the first Kenya Savannah Classic that followed was overturned by compatriot Daniel Van Tonder, who showered jazz Janewattananond from Thailand with a birdie in a sudden death play-off.
The duo had tied 21 under par 263 in the regulation.
On site, Kenyan golfers had a nightmare with Karen at both events.
Only Golf Park’s Samuel Njoroge and David Wakhu Railways saved the country by overcoming the planned cut among the 21 golfers who traded for the nation in the tournaments.
Njoroge sailed into the money class on two under par 140 at the Magical Kenya Open and finished the championship in 77th place after a level par finish in the four rounds in which he recorded 72, 68, 74, 70.
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Find out that Wakhu was in a class of his own when he combed the Karen fairways.
He made the cut at the Savannah Classic with a whooping eight under par 134, that was historic!
He finished 57th overall on seven under par 277 after scoring 66, 68, 74, 69 points in the four rounds.
Njoroge blamed the weather for his lackluster performance, failing to make it to the third lap in the Savannah.
“The course played hard, the wind and the greens were rolling very quickly,” he said.
Wakhu said lack of mental hardness cost him the outdoors.
“I was afraid of making mistakes, which prevented me from reaching my full potential,” he noted.
“I will now learn how to handle pressure and control my swings to keep my balance in place,” he added.
Edwin Inana from Vet Lab took part in the Open as a professional for the first time, just like Njoroge.
Inana finished 140th in the Open to six over par. He later dropped back to 146 over par in the Savannah.
He blamed the wind for his misery on the field.
“The course was a bit windy, but I did everything I could to control my shots so that they wouldn’t run for long,” said Inana.
Local pro Edwin Inana Isuza during the Magical Kenya Open tournament at Karen Country Club on March 19, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]
Erick Ooko from Golf Park led the local rankings alongside Muthaiga’s Taimur Malik with par under 69 on the first day of the Open.
Everyone thought the duo would continue the impressive show until the end.
But that was the last time they were both in the spotlight. Both did not manage to overcome the planned cut in the championships.
“The holes weren’t challenging at all, it’s me who made mistakes in high school,” Ooko said.
Toni Omuli, also from the Golf Park, could not cope with holes par-4, hole 3, which used to be par-5.
“The hole played hard and long. My other distraction was in hole 8, where my ball went over the limit in the open,” said Omuli.
Dismas Indiza from Kenya starts during the Magical Kenya Open tournament at the Karen Country Club on March 19, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]
Mumia’s golfer Dismas Indiza, who was the top-ranked Kenyan before the events due to the suspension of the Safari Tour series, had a bad show.
Indiza took 134th place in fourth place at the Open and 120th place in third place at Savannah.
“I have nothing to report. It was very difficult, it was very difficult for me. I failed in all departments. I hope to get stronger again next season,” said Indiza.
The script was the same for new inclusions on the Kenyan team, Mohit Mediratta and Njoroge Kibugu, who both failed to make the third round in the savannah.
Kenya Open Golf Limited (KOGL) said they were not impressed with the performance of the Kenyan golfers in the two tournaments.
KOGL has planned a post-mortem to see what the problem is.
“The pros received good support from sponsors and the government prior to the events. They participated in the high-level Safari Tour series to improve skills, endurance and fitness.
“All they had to do was repeat what they had learned on the pitch with Karen all season, but it was just a disappointment,” said Patrick Obath, director of the KOGL tournament.
KOGL plans to involve psychologists and motivational speakers in order to sharpen the team mentally and to inspire them before major events.
At the same time, KOGL has warned the players that there will be no automatic qualification for the championship next year.
This means that Njoroge and Wakhu will have to compete for the Open and Savannah slots as part of the government sponsored Safari Tour series.