Kiambu Golf Club’s Michael Karanga, one of the leading amateur golfers in the country, on Wednesday fired three under par 69, his second in a row, for an all rounds total of eight under 280 to emerge the winner of the third leg of the Kenya Open Golf Limited-organised Safari Tour golf series, at Limuru Country Club’s par 72 course.
Karanga, a grand-son of veteran Kiambu professional Michael Karanga Mwaura, who is also the captain of Ndumberi Golf Club currently playing off handicap two, made four birdies on the 11th, 12th, 13th and 15th, having dropped the only shot of the day at the par three-seventh, to beat the surviving 20 pros and four other amateurs for the title.
It was the first time in over a decade that an amateur won in a professional event in the country. Karanga was grateful to Kiambu members and in particular Patrick Nduati for having encouraged to play with the pros at Limuru.
“This was my first time to play with the pros and it really encouraged me a lot though I have been driving well throughout the week," said Karanga, who however admitted that the pin positions were tough during the final round. “I have missed about five tournaments in the Kenya Amateur Golf Championship (KAGC) series and was not sure if I was going to play well this week, but playing with the pros revived my form. I kept improving every day," added Karanga.
He won by three shots from Greg Snow, who made three birdies on the third, seventh and 15th but with an equal number of bogeys to finish on one under par 71 and a total of five under par 283, to pick up the top cash prize of Sh150,000. Day three leader David Opati of Windsor tied for third place with another amateur Edwin Mudanyi of Vet Lab on two under par 286.
Snow won the second leg at Vet Lab Sports Club’s par 72 course while winning the first leg at Nyali Golf and Country Club was Golf Park’s David Wakhu.
It was a tough day for Opati who picked up a triple bogey at the par three-seventh, having dropped three shots earlier on the first, fourth and sixth. He however pared all the holes at the back nine but his six over par 78 was not good enough to earn him his first victory in the series.
Mudanyi on the other hand posted three over par 75, a round that included only three birdies on the third, fourth and at the back nine’s 11th to also finish on 286.
A total of 45 players had been drawn for the third leg including the seven amateurs though only 20 pros and five amateurs made the second round cut to battle it out for cash prizes for the pros and token prizes for the amateurs.
The series, being used by the Kenya Open Golf Limited to help the local pros qualify for next year’s Kenya Open,- now a full European Tour event, moves to Thika Greens Golf Resort from November 11 for the fourth leg.
The final leaderboard;
280 Michael Karanga (A) 68, 74, 69, 69
283 Greg Snow 67, 66, 79, 71
286 Edwin Mudanyi (A) 68, 76, 67, 75
286 David Opati 67, 72, 69, 78
289 Riz Charania 77, 68, 72, 72
290 Simon Ngige 71, 80, 67, 72
290 Dismas Indiza 71, 72, 71, 76
291 Justus Madoya 76, 75, 72, 68
291 Philip Kasozi(UG) 75, 73, 71, 72
291 John Kagiri 77, 71, 73, 73
292 David Wakhu 71, 75, 75, 71.