Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A galaxy of stars on parade at Karen, Muthaiga Pro-Am events

PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO Jordi Garcia Pinto follows the flight of his tee shot from the 1st tee on March 4, 2014 during a training session ahead of the Barclays Kenya Open at Karen Golf and Country Club.

PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO Jordi Garcia Pinto follows the flight of his tee shot from the 1st tee on March 4, 2014 during a training session ahead of the Barclays Kenya Open at Karen Golf and Country Club.  NATION EMDIA GROUP

By LARRY NGALA
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Ten local professionals will be in action on Wednesday in the two Pro-Am events at Karen Country Club and Muthaiga Golf Club.

The Pro-Am events, which are usually held a day before the first round of the main Barclays Kenya Open, not only raise funds for the Kenya Open Golf Limited, the company which organises the Kenya Open, but also serve as a chance for the pros to make money prior to the main event.

At the same time, the events offer opportunities for the local amateurs some of whom their companies are supporting the Open, a chance to play with the local and visiting pros.

Going by the two draws, a total of 96 pros will be in action from 7am. Of those, 52 are drawn at Karen where the Pro-Am event is sponsored by the Open’s title sponsors Barclays Bank of Kenya.

COCA COLA TO SPONSOR MUTHAIGA EVENT

The Muthaiga Pro-Am will be sponsored by Coca Cola which made a donation of Sh8.6 million towards the 2014 Open.

Those drawn at Karen include 2013 Kenya Open champion Jordi Garcia Pinto whose form appears to have disappeared soon after his victory at Karen last year as he was below par in the remaining part of the 2013 Tour.

He was in addition able to land some invitation in the main tour where he however did not rise to the occasion hence he has returned back to the Challenge Tour to try and make his way to the top.

In Karen on Wednesday, Pinto is drawn alongside Kenya Open Golf Limited chairman Peter Kanyago and former Windsor captain Paul Mugambi who has been practicing in Karen. Both Kanyago and Mugambi are single-figure handicap players and very familiar with the par 72 course and are expected to play well.

Another interesting team to watch will be that of Andrew McArthur and Karen captain Anthony Gacheru and Chris Kirubi. These will all be in the afternoon, while in the morning section some of the teams to watch will include that of Philip Archer, former Kenya’s number one amateur Wachira Mahihu and Royal Nairobi’s Jonathan Chebukati.

Away at Muthaiga, there will be the teams of Andrea Rota and amateurs Bhavnish Chandaria who is the club captain and partner Moses Kiboi. Former Kenya Open champion Martin Lafeber will lead the amateur team of Nation Media’s Frankie Gichuru and Robert Kairu.

VIPINGO RIDGE SIX

Meanwhile, this year’s Barclays Kenya Open line-up will include courageous caddies from Vipingo Ridge. The six comprising Marcos Bright, Mwamwero Ndona, Mwatela Mazera, Julius Simiyu, Philip Toboi, and Raphel Zero are from Glad’s House, a UK charity that works with Mombasa’s street children to help them build a brighter future.

The charity runs a programme to train street children as caddies, and this year six young people have made the grade to carry for the professionals in the Kenya Open. They will probably be the only caddies holding European Tour’s caddies qualification certificates.

Cliff Ferguson, founder of Glad’s House, said: “This tournament is the culmination of a lot of hard work from our caddies. We offer the means for these young people to pull themselves out of a life on the streets, and I never fail to be amazed by the hard work they put in to turn their lives around.

“Golf is an inspiring game, but it’s a marathon not a sprint in the same way that the road from the street to independence is a long and difficult one,” he said.

To prepare for the tour, the caddies have been training for 12 months at the Vipingo Ridge Golf Resort near Mombasa. To help them prepare and better understand the game, the resort has begun staging monthly caddy competitions to boost their confidence and knowledge of golf.

This isn’t the first time that Glad’s House caddies have carried at a national event. In 2012 the charity supported two street-connected young people to carry for the European Tour.