The final leg of the 11 series, East Africa Safari Golf Tour has attracted a record number of professional golfers ahead of the weekend action.
A record 60 professional players will grace the greens at the Karen Country Club. This number has never been seen since the event inception in 2019.
The Karen’s leg, which tees off on Saturday with a Pro-Am ahead of the main tournament on Sunday, 23rd February, will have Sh3 million ($30,000) prize kitty; with the winner banking Sh450,000 – 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 the 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 professional 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 in 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.
Safari Tour Calendar 2019/20 winners
Event 1 Nyali Golf and Country Club: 24th – 28th August 2019 (Winner: Greg Snow)
Event 2 Uganda Open:10th – 14th Sept 2019 (Madalitso Muthiya)
Event 3 Royal Nairobi Golf Club: 12th – 16th October 2019 (Tony Omuli)
Event 4 Entebbe Open (Entebbe Golf Club): 30th Oct – 2nd Nov 2019 (Justas Madoya)
Event 5 Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort Open: 6th – 9th Nov 2019 (Dismas Indiza)
Event 6 Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort: 23rd – 27th Nov2019 (Dismas Indiza)
Event 7 Thika Greens: 4th – 8th January 2020 (Greg Snow)
Event 8 Muthaiga Golf Club: 11th – 15th January 2020 (Greg Snow)
Event 9 Sigona Golf Club: 25th – 29th January 2020 (Greg Snow)
Event 10 Kitante Open (Uganda Golf Club): 12th – 15th February 2020 (Andrew Odoh)
Event 11 Karen Country Club: 22nd -26th February 2020 (?)
2020 Magical Kenya Open, Karen Country Club, 12th – 15th March 2020.