Thika Sports Club's Simon Ngige emerged at the top among the locals at the close of Day One in the 2019 Magical Kenya Open golf tournament at the par 71 Karen Country Club course on Thursday.
Starting with back-to-back bogeys, Ngige went one under after picking up birdies on the sixth, eighth and ninth. At the back nine, Ngige made three more birdies at the 11th, 15th and 17th after dropping a shot at the 16th for three under par 68, to finish just a shot better than pacemaker Dismas Indiza who had fired two under par 69.
"I had a very shake start, dropping two shots just on the first two holes, but I managed to bring myself back to the game with three birdies at the first nine which brought my confidence back. I am happy with my round," said Ngige, who was 13th overall at the close of the opening round.
Indiza had picked up two birdies at the front nine and two at the back nine where he also bogeyed the 12th, 13th and 14th.
"I started well with two birdies and added two more at the start of the back nine, but I started struggling there after though I am happy for a start. The course is nice though the fairways are a bit dry while the wind was unusually strong in the morning," said Indiza, who was placed 14th overall.
Finishing closely to the two leaders was Justus Madoya from the Great Rift Valley Golf Resort in Naivasha on level par 71. He dropped three shots at the front nine where he only managed to pick up a birdie at the seventh. It was at the back nine where Madoya managed to roll in birdies at the 11th, 12th and 17th with a bogey at the 14th.
It was not however a good start for Safari Tour series champion Greg Snow who made birdies on the eighth in the front nine after dropping shots on the second, third and fifth.
He, however, closed the outward nine with a birdie at the eighth, added three more at the 11th, 12th and 17th but with a bogey at the 15th for two over par 73. Just like the top three, Snow - who played with Thomas Bjorn and Qatar Masters champion Justin Harding of South Africa - is still very much in the race and capable of turning the tables in Friday's second.
Meanwhile, on one over par 72 was Tony Omuli who was firing and heading for an under score until he dropped a shot at the home green. He had earlier eagled the sixth, birdied the eighth after a bogey at the seventh. He then birdied the 11th and 15th to finish fourth overall among the locals and with a chance for a good finish in the second round.
Leading the six amateurs was Edwin Mudanyi on two over par 73, which gave him a three-shot advantage over Daniel Nduva and junior player Mutahi Kibugu.