This year, the Coast Open marks its 97th year of being sponsored by, among others, Tea Directorate.
The Coast Open kicked off to a poor start on Saturday, with one over par being the best half way score.
The century-old Mombasa Golf Club’s par 71 course proved tough to both the visiting players locals.
And it was the veteran Francis Kimani - a former national team captain from Limuru - and Nyali’s John Timbe who shot one over par 72 each to take a club-house lead, as half of the field was still tackling the sea-side course.
Kimani started with a bogey at the down-hill par four-first hole, dropped another shot at the stroke index one-fifth, but birdied the eighth for one over par 36.
At the back nine, Kimani still playing off scratch, birdied the 13th and 14th, but against bogeys at the 11th, and 15th to level the nine.
“This course requires a level-headed approach as every shot is very different. I have played here many times. And over the years, I have realised its not just about driving here but the approaching shots,’’ said Kimani.
The handicap three Timbe birdied the eighth after dropping a shot the hole before, while at the back nine he started by making a birdie at the 10th, and added one more at the 17th.
But he had dropped shots at the 13th, 15th and later at the 18th. Following the two leaders - with just a shot adrift - was Kenya Railway Golf Club’s Alfred Nandwa who recovered from a first nine four over par to wind up with one under at the back nine for the day’s two over par 73.
"Its a tough course particularly from 100 yards to the green, otherwise I cannot complain about my scores. If I manage to shoot level par in the first nine tomorrow, then the cup will be heading to Railway," said Nandwa.
He had bogeyed the second, picked up a double at the par three-third, followed by more bogeys at the sixth and eighth with only a birdie coming at the ninth.
He birdied the 12th, 13th, 17th but bogeyed the 15th. Defending champion Mathew Wahome of Nyali - who is seeking a record three back to back victories - double-bogeyed the seventh after two back to back bogeys at the fifth, sixth and ninth.
The back nine was, however, better as he only dropped shots at the 16th and 18th for six over par 77, and a shot worse than Leisure Lodge’s Amos Kamau and Railway’s George Felix.
All the players who started in the morning during the opening round will be off in the afternoon today, while those who were drawn in the afternoon in day one, will be on the course as early as 7am in the seeded draw.
This year, the Coast Open marks its 97th year of being sponsored by Tea Directorate, Kericho Gold, Basco Paints, Gertrude's Children’s Foundation and Crown Beverages.