Kenya: Local Players Hunt for Elusive Amateur Title in Major Tournament

For the past 11 years, the amateur title in the renamed Magical Kenya Open has been elusive to Kenyan players.

The last time an amateur made it to the last two rounds of the then Tusker Kenya Open at Muthaiga Golf Club, which was still a European Challenge Tour series, was in 2010 when Boniface Simwa, then playing off plus two handicap, not only made the cut but was able to finish in position 38 overall.

Simwa had finished second in the Africa Amateur Championship at the Dreamland Golf Resort in Cairo, Egypt the previous year. He turned professional after his successful mission in the Open.

Karichu disqualified

Since then local amateurs have only come closer to making the cut after a good start, followed by a bad round in the second round.

In 2014, Limuru Country Club's John Karichu started off with three over par in the first round, followed it with an impressive four under par in the second round.

He was, however, disqualified for carrying an extra club in his bag. Each player is required to carry a maximum of 14 clubs in his or her bag always during an official tournament.

In 2016, Nyali-based Mathew Wahome, then a junior, shot three under 69 in the first round, though made a number of bogeys in the second which resulted in a 77, to miss the cut.

Incidentally, that was the year, a French amateur Romain Langasque, who had been invited by the event organisers, not only made cut, but went on to finish on 15 under second place, just three shots behind the winner of the pro title Sweden's Sebastian Soderberg.

This is the kind of record that the six amateurs in this year's Magical Kenya Open, now in its second year as a European Tour, will be chasing at the par 71 Karen Country Club course.

Leading them will be Vet Lab Sports Club's Isaac Makokha, who is the current Kenya Amateur Match Play champion, while others are Jay Sandhu who is the Kenya Amateur Stroke Play champion, two juniors Mutahi Kibugu and Taimur Malik of Muthaiga, Limuru's Paul Muchangi as well as Tanzania's Victor Joseph.

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