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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Kenya Open proves elusive to home pros

3rd April 2012

For yet another moment most of the professional golfers in the East African region have failed to make a mark at the just ended Kenya Open in Nairobi over the weekend.

The lucrative European PGA Challenge Tour event for the continent has proved to be an uphill task by the homegrown professional golfers despite playing under conducive familiar environment.

Year in year out since the event secured sanctioning by the European PGA Challenge Tour in 1991, no home golfers or say an East African has managed to win the ultimate cash prize.

The event has been supported by Kenya’s most reputed corporate firms including East African Breweries, Sameer Group and Barclays Bank to mention a few.

Out of more than twenty players, including six amateurs who competed in the tourney from the East African region, only six managed to make the plus two cut and had the opportunity to share part of the Euros 190,000 prize fund package courtesy of Barclays Bank.

Tanzania and Rwanda fielded only one player each while there was no representative from Uganda.

Kenya’s professional duo of Dismas Indiza and Brian Njoroge tried their best to squeeze themselves into the plus two cut as Ganeev Giddie, Anil Shah, Nicholas Rokoine and the youngest ever qualifier Stefan Andersen also followed them.

The percentage of those Kenyan players and additional two others from Tanzania and Rwanda who managed to make the cut is less than 25 percent.

The six players who claimed a share of the prize fund looks to be a successful achievement as contrasted to the previous edition.

The regional golf professionals should thank the sponsors who are still maintaining support to the event but need to reciprocate through making the cut or winning the event as well.

Home ground advantage looks to be irrelevant when it comes to Kenya Open as most of the East African professionals happen to fell on the way side.

Tanzanian oldest professional Salim Mwanyenza has his Kenya Open record intact as there is no other player who has successfully made the cut since 2004.

Eight years are going now without a Tanzanian making the cut in the lucrative event despite several layers making appearance in the championship.

Kenya’s Jacob Okello, who missed the Kenya Open title by a whisker during the 1998 edition, remains as the only icon from the region.

However with age and other lifestyle matters, Okello has flopped beyond anticipation and is struggling to make the cut in the event.

Okello has been joining the other casualties from the tournament and fans are left to wonder how he managed to come close to the title podium in 1998.

Still energetic and capable, Okello has an opportunity to reclaim his explosive form should he realise the need.

Kenya Open has been the stepping stone for most of the European and South African golfers to win elevation into the main European PGA Tour.

The late Seve Balesteros, Marteen Lafaber, Ricardo Gonzalez, Trevor Immelman are some of the successful golfers who used Kenya Open as a ladder.

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