Another major sporting event in Kenya, has been postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The KCB Karen Masters golf tournament which is part of the South Africa based Sunshine Tour event which had been planned to take place from September 10 to 13 at the Karen Country Club course, has now been pushed to either December or early 2021. The Karen Country Club management after consultation with title sponsors KCB Bank and the Sunshine Tour came to the conclusion that it was not possible to have the event played in September.
“We have the safety of the players, club and tournament staff, club members and the wider Kenyan public top of mind,’’ said Andy Watt, International Golf Tournaments Chairman at Karen Country Club, in making the announcement.
Watt said the country has just opened international flights with affect from August 1, but many of the countries from which the players would have come from, are not on the first list not requiring quarantine on arrival. “This would make it extremely difficult for players to participate in the tournament, in addition large gatherings of people are not permitted which would rob our loyal fans from being able to witness this popular golfing event," said Watt.
We know this is very disappointing for players and fans alike, but safety must be our priority and we don’t want to put anybody at unnecessary risk. More details of the revised dates will be communicated as the Covid-19 situation develops and we can be sure of staging an event safely and securely’’ he added.
The KCB Karen Masters is the second biggest professional golf tournament in the country besides the premier Magical Kenya Open which is part of the European Tour.
It was to take place from March 12 to 15 also at Karen Country Club’s par 72 course. However due to the Covid-19, it was postponed and recently allocated a November 12 to 15 date.
For the Masters, Watt said he expects a field of 156 which will include a contingent of local professionals as well as six amateurs. On the use of services of caddies, Watt said he had no idea yet what the rules will be.
“On the other tours, they manage a Bio-secure bubble but they travel with their caddies. It is still to be worked out but we will do what is safe,’’ Watt said.
Most of the Sunshine Tour players have used local caddies in the past.
“We can do testing, as we really have to see what rules the Sunshine Tour and the Government of Kenya are working on closer to the time. For me the first prize would be a vaccination ready and available by the end of November, at the meantime, we will keep monitoring and plan.
Earlier, the Sunshine Tour tournament director Gary Todd had said the staging of the Karen Masters and the other events in the tour was entirely dependent on the Covid-19 situation in both Kenya and South Africa. “ I know the air transport was opening on August 1, but I am not so sure if Kenya Airways will be flying to South Africa, as of now we are still closed for the foreseeable future,’’ said Todd.