The Karen Country Club leg of the 2019/2020 Safari Golf Tour Series has attracted a field of 60 professional golfers – the biggest number of professional entrants for a Safari Tour event held in Kenya since its inception last year.
The Karen leg, which tees off tomorrow with a Pro-Am ahead of the main tournament on Sunday, 23rd February, will have a KShs 3 Million prize kitty; with the winner banking KShs 450,000 – making it the second most lucrative event on the 2019/2020 calendar after the Uganda Open.
The tournament will offer local and regional professional golfers the final opportunity to qualify for the 2020 Magical Kenya Open presented by Absa championship which will take place next month from the 12th to the 15th at the Karen Country Club.
Among the entrants are 40 Kenyan professional players, 10 Ugandans, four Zimbabweans, two Malawians, two Zambians, one Nigerian, and one Tanzanian. Three amateurs, Naomi Wafula, 13-year-old Chanelle Wangari, and Limuru Country Club’s Paul Muchangi, have also entered to participate at the tourney.
Muchangi has already booked an elite amateur slot to play at this year’s Kenya Open – by virtue of winning the 2019 Kenya Amateur Match Play contest – and will be using the Karen leg of the Safari Tour to prepare for next month’s Kenya Open.
The Kenyan pros contingent will be led by the Johnnie Walker-sponsored Dismas Indiza who currently leads the Road to Kenya Open Ranking with 395.1 points. Simon Ngige, Greg Snow (also sponsored by Johnnie Walker) and Royal Nairobi Golf Club’s Eric Ooko – all of whom have booked their slots for the Kenya Open – are also expected to take part at the final leg of this season’s Tour.
Windsor’s Rizwan Charania, Golf Park’s David Wakhu, Muthaiga’s Kopan Timbe and Sigona’s C J Wangai – who currently occupy the last four remaining Kenya Open qualification slots – are also part of the field. They will expect heightened competition from Antony Juma, Jastas Madoya and Mohit Mediratta, who are within striking distance for a place at the Kenya Open.
Among the regional golfers, key players to look out for include: Nigeria’s Andrew Odoh – who comes to Karen on the back of his successful outing at the Kitante Open; the Zimbabwean duet of Tongoona Charamba and Robson Chinhoi; as well as Zambia’s Madalitso Muthiya – winner of the 2019 Uganda Open.
The battle for the two slots reserved for regional players is due to intensify with six points covering the top three regional players, Chinhoi (214 points), Odoh (210 points) and Uganda’s Philip Kasozi (208.5 points), who are in contention.
With the increased Road to Kenya Open Ranking points and prize money, making the Cut after 36 holes will be crucial especially for the players in close contention for final Kenya Open qualification slots.