Thika Sports Club’s Simon Ngige fired an impressive three under par 68 to join overnight leaders Njuguna Ngugi and David Wakhu at the top of the leader board as the 2016 Jamii PGK Masters entered the halfway stage at Muthaiga Golf Club, Nairobi, on Wednesday.
Ngige played a bogey-free front nine which included birdies at the first, fourth and seventh holes. He however three-putted the 11th after starting the back nine with a birdie and then pitched over the green to the bunker at the 12th to pick up a double bogey.
“I had a fine driver, hit a superb pitching wedge which bounced on the bunker,” said Ngige. “The ball was sitting badly; I could not get it out well.
“Otherwise, I managed to hit all the fairways.”
The golfer added two more birdies at the 14th, 17th and 18th, though against a bogey at the 16th for a two-under-par total of 140.
Meanwhile, both Ngugi and Wakhu shot one under par 70 again, each for 140.
Wakhu eagled the fourth and 10th with only a birdie at the 17th and four bogeys for the day while Njuguna recovered from a string of bogeys at the front nine to level it with some recovery birdies coming at the ninth and eagle before then at the seventh.
He however played a clean round at the back nine, where he birdied the 10th.
Home player Nicholas Rokoine was a shot behind on 141, same as Golf Park’s Tony Omuli.
A total of 20 players with scores of at least 151 made it to today’s third round of the Sh1 million event that is being sponsored by Jamii Telecom, in which the winner will pocket a Sh102,000 cash prize.
Elsewhere, Top golfers Marcus Fraser, Joost Luiten and George Coetzee have been added to a strong field at the 52nd Hero Indian Open 2016, which starts this month.
The trio will join the list of six golfers in the top-100 ranking with defending champion Anirban Lahiri at 50th in the world chart.
Australia’s Fraser is ranked 63rd, Dutchman Luiten stands at the 77th spot and Coetzee from South Africa sits at the 78th position in the world rankings.
Tommy Fleetwood (England) at 81st and Marc Warren (Scotland) at 87th are the others in the top 100. Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington of Ireland is the star attraction at the event.
The strength of the field and presence of so many top-100 players will also mean more world ranking points.
These are essential for players to qualify for this summer’s Rio Olympics, where golf will make a return after 108 years.
The field has a host of other past winners, including Siddikur Rahman (Bangladesh), Thaworn Wiratchant (Thailand), Mardan Mamat (Singapore) and Arjun Atwal (India).
The annual event is scheduled to run from March 17-20 at the Delhi Golf Club in New Delhi.
The event, sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour for the second straight year, will carry an enhanced prize purse of $1.66 million.