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Kenya Open to be played behind closed doors

Tuesday July 21 2020
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Kenya Open Golf Limited Chairman Peter Kanyago (left) and tournament director Patrick Obath hold the winners award during media briefing on this year's Magical Kenya Open presented by ABSA at the Karen Country club on March 2, 2020. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By LARRY NGALA

Kenya’s golf fans will miss the opportunity of physical watching and following their favourite professionals during the 2020 Magical Kenya Open presented by Absa which has now been scheduled for November 12 to 15 at the par 72 Karen Country Club course.

Kenya Open tournament director Patrick Obath confirmed to Nation Sport that the Magical Kenya Open just like the rest of the European Tour events, will be a closed event.

“I can confirm that it will be a closed  event with no public. The Magical Kenya Open being a European Tour event, is similar to the events being held in the United Kingdom and the USA,’’ said Obath on Monday.

In the current events being played in the USA and Europe, only the media, and scorers and other staff but no spectators are allowed. Obath said the organizing committee plans to have caddies available during the Kenya Open, but those will be caddies who will have been cleared by the Covid-19 protocols that have been jointly agreed by the European Tour and the Ministry of Health. “This will be a delicate balance, but it is what is happening everywhere else," added Obath who promised to brief the public in a series of press briefings from the first week of August.

The Magical Kenya Open had been scheduled to take place from March 12 to 15 at Karen, but had to be postponed following a government directive cancelling or postponing all social and sports activities because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the Kenya Open Golf Limited and the European Tour agreed to have the event in November as part of the 2020 European Tour’s “Race to Dubai’’ series second half which started this month with the Austrian Open on July 9 to 12 and won by Scotland’s Marc Warren on 13 under par 275.

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A total of 10 events in the European Tour had already been played before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. They included the Commercial Bank of Qatar Masters held on March 5 to 8 and which was to be followed a week later by the Magical Kenya Open.

A total of 144 players including 12 local and regional players as well as six amateurs will take part in the Magical Kenya Open which will be taking place for the second year as part of the European Tour and where at stake will be Sh123 million (1 million Euros).

The 12 pros include nine Kenyans, one each from Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Uganda while the six amateurs namely Samuel Njoroge (Railway), Paul Muchangi(Limuru), Daniel Nduva(Nyali), Mutahi Kibugu, and Taimur Malik (Muthaiga) and Victor Joseph from Tanzania.

The regional players will be Abdrew Oche Odoh of Nigeria, Robson Chinhoi of Zimbabwe and Uganda’s Philip Kasozi. Leading the locals, will be the long hitting Dismas Indiza while others will include Simon Ngige, Greg Snow, Erick Ooko, David Wakhu, John Wangai, Riz Charania, Justus Madoya, and Kopan Timbe.

Meanwhile back at the European Tour, action continues this week with the Beltrend British Masters hosted by Lee Westwood in Newcastle UK this week after last week’s Euram Bank Open held in Austria where Frenchman Joel Stalter fired 14 under par 266 to claim the title. The Beltrend whose first round is on Wednesday begins the six “UK Swing’’ events which will end with the UK Championship at the Belfrey from August 27 before the tour moves to other countries.

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