Thika Sports Club’s Simon Ngige rolled in a total of seven birdies to share the first round lead with the Golf Park’s Jacob Okello as the Kenya Airways Golf Safari grand finale got underway at Windsor Golf Hotel and Country Club on Wednesday.
Ngige took off well, rolling in a birdie at the third hole and later at the eighth but dropped a shot at the ninth.
At the back nine, he birdied the 10th, 12th and 13th and appeared set for an excellent day until he made a triple bogey seven at the par four 14th hole.
He however recovered shots with birdies at the 15th and 17 for the day’s three under par 69 to share the day’s lead with Okello, who birdied the first, third, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th and dropped shots at the fourth, 14th and 16th holes. Following the two leaders closely was Coast-based Kopan Timbe who shot two under par 70 in a round which included five birdies, three at the front nine and two from the back nine.
However, he dropped three shots at the fifth, 10th and 16th.
Next to Timbe was Njuguna Ngugi on one under par 71. Nakuru’s Richard Ainley, returning to action after missing the first leg of this year’s KCB East Africa Golf Tour at Thika, shot level par 72 to stay in touch with the leaders.
Barclays Kenya Open
Home professional Riz Charania shot one over par 73 to also join the leaderboard.
A total of 30 professionals are taking part in the tournament which is serving as their first build-up event ahead of the forthcoming Barclays Kenya Open scheduled for March 29 to April 1 at Muthaiga Golf Club.
The second round is set to tee off from 12.00 noon, while the pros will be joined by a field of 120 amateurs for tomorrow’s Pro-Am which has its own prize fund.
The final round will take place on Saturday where the pros will be joined by qualifiers from Kenya and those from 15 other African countries.