Handicap 23 golfer Stephen Koigi emerged the overall winner of the 2019 Nation Classic golf series grand finale at the tough-playing but scenic Limuru Country Club course on Saturday.
Koigi, whose new handicap is 20, posted an impressive score of 41 stableford points, to beat the field of 161 players which included players from Kisumu, Nyahururu, Eldoret and Kakamega. He made a birdie in each nine to combine 20 and 21 points.
“I have no words to express how great I am feeling for winning this event, beating some of the seasonal golfers at Limuru. I must thank my teammates for their encouragement and obviously the Nation Media group and other sponsors for bringing the Classic final to Limuru. Everything was so great,’’ said Koigi.
Taking the men’s title after a three-way count back with former amateur strokeplay champion John Kariuki and former Limuru captain Ken Chege, was Solomon Irimu who posted 18 and 21 for 39, while Kariuki and Chege who took the runner-up and third place prizes respectively had carded 19 and 20 points each.
Limuru Country Club chairlady Dr Caroline Wangari Ngugi posted 33 points to lead the ladies with Ruth Omwansa on 29 points finishing second. Charles Mboga and Sterphen Nganga won the first and second nine with 23 and 21 points respectively with Fred Kirui winning the staff prize after posting 28 points.
In the guest category which also included some of the players who had qualified from the other four Nation Classic events, Nyanza Golf Club’s Jiten Pabari posted 38 points to win ahead of Frankie Gichuru from St. Andrews School Turi, whose school was also part of the sponsors of the grand finale, who carded 34 points. The third prize went to P. Muiru of Nyahururu on 33 points.
Nine-year-old Belinda Wairimu, a star in the making, clinched the junior title with a score of 32 points despite having bogeyed a number of shots. “I played well though I made some few bad shots in some of the holes but I am very happy all the same for winning the junior prize,’’ said Wairimu.
Speaking during the prize giving ceremony, Nation Media Group Chief Executive Officer Stephen Gitagama thanked all the golfers who travelled from different parts of the country as well as Limuru members for participating in the event.
“The Nation Media Group has been supporting this event since 1985 hence this year the Nation Classic is marking its 34th anniversary and as the company also celebrates its 60th anniversary, we are most delighted that you all came to support the grand finale. I must also thank our partners, Inchcape Kenya Limited and St. Andrews School Turi for joining us for today’s event’’ said Gitagama.
Club chairlady Wangari thanked NMG for having chosen Limuru as the venue for this year’s Classic finals. “We feel most honoured and very grateful to have been given this opportunity to host this great event. I believe we as Limuru have a lot we can do together with the Nation Media Group to enhance our relationship,’’ said Ngugi.
She said the management of the club has over the past few months been trying to improve the course by introducing an irrigation system which she said will make the Limuru course one of the best in the country. "Those who played must have noticed the irrigation work that has been going on which may have made the course to look ugly, but I can assure you by December all will be fine."
This year, other Nation Classic events were held at Nyanza Golf Club Kisumu, Nanyuki Sports Club, Nyali Golf and Country Club in Mombasa and Eldoret Club.
Present during the prize giving ceremony besides Gitagama, was an NMG director Wangethi Mwangi, Head of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs Clifford Machoka and the Business Daily editor Ng’ang’a Mbugua among other senior managers.