At least 14 local pros will be in action during Tuesday’s Pro-Am which marks the start of the 2016 Barclays Kenya Open at the par-72 Karen Country Club course.
Usually, the two Pro-Am events which are curtain-raisers for the Open are held on the same day but at two different venues.
This year however, the tournament’s organising committee has decided to have the two events at Karen in order to give players arriving in the country late a chance to test the course before the Open proper.
Local pros who will be in action on Tuesday include Thika Sports Club’s Simon Ngige who won the Jamii Telecom PGK Masters at Muthaiga Golf Club at the weekend. Others are Muthaiga’s Greg Snow, Richard Ainley, Riz Charania, David Wakhu, and David Odhiambo. The remaining pros will feature in the Pro-Am on Wednesday.
Meanwhile this year’s event has been over subscribed, according to tournament director Patrick Obath. Speaking at Karen at the weekend, Obath said that the championship had received over 200 entries from around the world.
FIELD OF 156 PLAYERS
“The Kenya Open is part of the Challenge Tour and the rules allow a maximum field of 156 players (150 pros and six amateurs),’’ said Obath.
Usually, the Challenge Tour provides 106 pros while the remaining 50 are invited from African countries, among them Kenya, South Africa Zimbabwe, Uganda and Rwanda.
“Occasionally we extend invites to players from Europe and in turn we expect them to invite Kenyan professionals to play in their tournaments. This year, we have invited two players each from Italy, Belgium and Switzerland. Consequently, slots will be made available to Kenyan pros in the Montecchia Open in Italy (May) and the Swiss Challenge (June) and KPMG Trophy in Belgium,” he added.
Obath said total of 22 Kenyan professionals are on the list and another eight are on a reserve list. In addition to the eight Kenyans on the reserve list, there are three Ugandans, two Nigerians and one player each from Zimbabwe and Slovakia.
“Interest in the Kenya Open has steadily grown and this is testament to the effort that the Kenya Open partners have put into this event. This year’s championship is the first event on the Challenge Tour’s 2016 season.”