WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21 – It will be a battle-royale as the 50th edition of the Barclays Kenya Open gets under way at the “home of golf” Muthaiga Golf Club course from 7am on Thursday.
With a top prize fund of Euro 500,000, the richest in the 2018 European Challenge Tour series, this year’s Open with a big government support, has attracted an all star field of 156 players.
They will be vying for the top prize of 80,000 Euro (about Sh10 million plus a chance to qualify in the lucrative European Tour.
Challenge Tour director Paul Carrigill, himself a former Challenge and Kenya Open player, says the event offers a great chance for whoever wins, to play in the European Tour next year if he can pick up some five or so top 10 finishes in the remaining part of this year’s tour.
“The prize money is good and hence the competition will be very stiff this time with a galaxy of former European Tour players and some new faces coming out for the first time” Carrigill told www.kenya-opengolf.com
For the Europeans, the French challenge appears to be on the increase thanks to players like Romain Langasque, a former top French and European amateur. Langasque finished a surprise second in his first Kenya Open appearance at Karen Club three years ago and went on to play in the European Tour. Then there is Victor Rui, a regular who put up a strong show winning the pre-qualifying tournament at the Vet Lab Sports Club on Monday with a six under par finish. The other French hopeful is Victor Perez who was ranked 18th last year and recently won in Spain.
But it will not be plain sailing from the French as the Germans and the Dutch who have been challenging the traditional British dominance at the Open. Sebastian Hiesele of Germany and Dutchman Dan Huizing are people to watch. Of course Italians like Allessandro Tadini should offer some strong fight against England’s Sam Walker, Max Orrin and former champion Gary Boyd among others.
With a lot of experience, local players such as Dismas Indiza, Greg Snow, Stefan Andersen, and Jacob Okello, whose second finish record of 1998 is still intact, will try and fight off the European challenge with the help of the South Africans led by Peter Karmis and Jaco Ahlers.
But unlike last year, the rains have made the par 71 course very long and the greens are not likely to be as hard particularly if the rains continue which will be an advantage to the locals. In all, it is expected to be the toughest Kenya Open ever, with such a strong field competing for the biggest prize money in the history of the championship.