The 2019 KCB Karen Masters golf tournament begins this morning at the par-72 Karen Country Club course following Wednesday’s Pro-Am, a curtain-raiser for the main event.
A field of 156 players, including four local amateurs, will be up as early as 7am on both first and tenth tees. The pros will be chasing the top prize of 348,700 Rand (about Sh2.4 million) in the 2.2 million Rand (about Sh15.7 million) tournament which is now part of Africa’s Sunshine Tour. The amateurs will be battling it out for the amateur title and a chance of invitation to some international events.
Although this year’s tournament has attracted players from different parts of Africa as well as some from Europe and America, all eyes will be on defending champion Michael Palmer from South Africa.
In last year’s event, Palmer produced a brilliant round of five under par 67 for an all-round total of 18 under par 270 to beat compatriot Merrick Bremner by two shots.
The Betway-sponsored Bremner, who has just returned from Pebble Beach California where he featured in the first two rounds of the US Open, is a man on a mission at Karen. Last he looked headed for victory until he dropped a couple of shots to close the final day with two under par 70 which could only give him 16 under par 272.
He finished a shot better than T. Ryan and Pieter Moolman who tied in third place on 15 under par ahead of Daniel van Tonder and Martin Rohwer.
Currently, van Tonder is leading in the Sunshine Tour money list followed by JC Ritchie, Callum Miowat, Rhys Enoch and Garrick Higgo, all of whom are at Karen for the “Blue Jacket’’ and some money for the Order of Merit.
Also seeking a Kenyan golf title for the first time, will be J.J. Senekal and Sweden’s Philip Erickson who has been featuring in the Sunshine as well as the European Challenge Tour.
Like year, the Masters title is being contested by a strong field which also includes a fine tuned Kenyan line-up led by Thika Sports Club’s Simon Ngige who finished 25th in the Magical Kenya Open at the same venue in March and whose battalion includes Dismas Indiza, Mohit Mediratta, John Wangai, Riz Charania, Justus Madoya and Greg Snow.
These are some of the 30 Kenyan pros who are capable of tackling the hot South Africans in the Masters. Besides title sponsors KCB, the tournament has attracted a host of support sponsors, among them Toyota Kenya which is offering a RAV4 car worth Sh6.499 million for any player firing in one at the par three-fifth.
Telecommunications giant Safaricom has provided a media centre at a cost of Sh5 million. The tournament’s village has been set up with the support of Kenya Breweries.
Chasing the amateur title will be junior Mathew Wahome from Nyali Golf and Country Club, his club-mate Daniel Nduva, leading amateur Samuel Njoroge and the Great Rift Valley Golf Resort’s Simon Njogu.
Wahome, from the golfing family of Martin and Alice Wahome, is currently in his best form, having won the Trans Nzoia Open few weeks ago and a close second place finish in the Coronation Trophy in Nakuru.