The hot-charging Ikinu Wambugu from Royal Nairobi Golf Club, is the new Kenya Junior Amateur Match Play champion.
The 17-year-old Wambugu currently playing off handicap, beat Muthaiga’s Njoroge Kibugu 3-2 in the final match at the par 72 Sigona Golf Club course on Friday to claim Kenya’s second biggest junior golf title.
“I am overwhelmed by all this. I really didn’t want to play this week as I wanted to study but my mother insisted I come and play, I just can’t thank her enough. I actually didn’t think I had any chance of beating all these experienced players some of whom have even represented the country in international events,’’ said Wambugu who represented Royal during the 2019 Tannahill Shield junior tournament.
It was however a tough final for both going by the number of holes halved particularly in the early stages of the final, and it was the 15-year-old Kibugu, a son of Postal Corporation of Kenya boss Dan Kagwe, who took the lead after the first three holes and held on up to the sixth hole where Wambugu went up and was three up at the turn.
Kibugu managed to pick up some few holes though Wambugu remained firm up to the 16th where he managed to overpower the handicap five Kibugu with a 3-2 victory. “The guy (Wambugu) was tough as I tried several times to grab the lead, but each time I holed for a par, he also replied with a par, and I think he real deserved the victory,’’ said Kibugu.
During the morning’s semi-finals, Wambugu had beaten the newly crowned Junior Stroke Play champion Taimur Malik 1-up while Kibugu beat Windsor’s Lee Kimathi also 1-up for the two to book the final clash. During the quarter finals played on Thursday, Wambugu had beaten the tournament favourite Mutahi Kibugu 1-up while Njoroge Kibugu beat club-mate and another top contender Zubair Khan also from Muthaiga 1-up.
Taking the Windsor Trophy (14 years and under) was Nyali Golf and Country Club’s Andrew Wahome who beat home player Celina Patel, the only girl who featured in the prize list, 6-4. The two had eliminated Nathan Ngweno and Krish Beiju respectively in the semis, while Priyan Bhanderi beat Kevin Shi 6-5. Winning the Plate in the R&A for 15 to 21 years was Daniel Matiri who beat Mikael Kihara.
In the Stroke Play subsidiary event, Nyali’s Zayan Din carded 79 gross to claim the gross title while Mukundi Muthusi took the nett title.
A total of 35 juniors participated in the event sponsored by Barclays Bank (Absa Group). Speaking during the prize giving ceremony, Junior Golf Foundation(JGF) trustee Nancy Ikinu who is also the JGF competition convenor, thanked Barclays for supporting the event.
“We sincerely value this kind of sponsorship and we hope that Barclays Bank will continue supporting the junior events in the country,’’ said Ikinu who announced the Limuru Junior event which was scheduled for Monday had been postponed until December since the hosts Limuru Country Club was not ready to host the event.
Barclays Bank’s Macharia Mwangi said the bank, which has played a major role in the Magical Kenya Open, will continue supporting golf in the country.