The Star (Nairobi)

14 February 2013

Kenya: Karen Club All Set As Kenya Open Action Starts

Formalities of the past few days are over as the lush green fairways of Karen Country Club prepare to host the cream de la creme of the European Challenge Tour in this year's Barclays Kenya Open.

This year's prize money for the championship is €195,000 (Sh23m) raised mostly from the local corporate companies and Kenyans will strive to make the cut if they hope to get a share of the money.

Competitors had a feel of the course yesterday during Pro-Am which ran at Karen and Muthaiga courses.

Home-based professionals have had the privilege of practising on the course for the past one week as well as their presence in the Pro-Am.

"The course is playing really well at the moment and we are glad for the opportunity to practice on this course over longer periods," said Dismas Indiza, who is Kenya's main hope.

David Odhiambo, Brian Njoroge, US-based Greg Snow, Riz Charania and winner of the PGK Masters Nicholas Rokoine are among the top men in the Kenyan brigade.

Tanzania's Hassan Kadio, Uganda's Deo Akope and Herman Mtawe will be looking to make an impression on the regional front up against 33 Kenyans who among them six are off-scratch amateurs.

After Kenya, England has the biggest entry with 23 of their pros gunning for top honours.

Karen welcomes back competitors for the event which was last held here in 2008.

Among the Challenge Tour winners (2011-2012) gracing the Kenya Open are Brooks Koepka (USA) and Gary Stal ( France), Raymond Russel (Scotland), Sam Walker (England), Marco Crespi (Italy) and Philip Archer (England).

Daniel Vancsik will be hoping for a repeat performance at Karen--the venue for his last European Challenge Tour victory. Koepka qualified for the 2012 U.S. Open while still an amateur. But after missing the cut in the event, Koepka turned professional and began playing on the Challenge Tour in Europe. He won his first event in September at the Challenge de Catalunya.

Italian Andrea Pavan says Karen reminds him of a few courses in Italy because it is tree-lined and the greens are quite small. "It's like an old-style course," he said.

"It's nice here at Karen--similar to Muthaiga, where I played two years ago. The greens are a bit firmer but there are some tricky holes and you have to hit it straight. Overall it's a good course."

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