Despite picking up a triple bogey at the par five-first hole, Golf Park’s Jacob Okello still put himself together, to eventually finish with level par 71, in the first round of the Safari Tour golf series at the tough-playing Nyali Golf and Country Club, Mombasa on Sunday.
He drove to the right side of the fairway, hit a tree and the ball was deflected to the right bush, managed to hit across the fairway to eventually hit the green on six and made two putts.
“It was a bad shot on the first hole which I usual play well, but when the ball hit a tree and flew to the left, I knew I was in trouble,’’ said Okello who however managed to recover two shots with birdies on the third par three, and at the par five-fifth. He hit a poor approach shot at the ninth after a fine drover, to bogey the hole for two over par first nine.
He however played a clean back nine which included birdies on the 11th and 15th for two under par to share the top position with pacemaker Alfred Nandwa from Kenya Railway Golf Club and Uganda Open champion Dismas Indiza.
Nandwa bogeyed the two shot holes in the first nine with only one birdie at the fifth. At the back nine, Nandwa picked birdies at the 11th, 13th and a late one at the 17th but he also dropped shots at the 15th and 16th, recovering one at the par five-17th.
On the other hand, Indiza, started well, firing a bogey-free first nine which included birdies at the first, fifth and eighth, though a bogey start at the back nine and a double at the 12th and a single bogey at the 16th denied him a lead on his own, though he was happy with his round.
“First round is unpredictable though level par is not a bad start and I am looking forward to try and stay focused in the next rounds,’’ said Indiza who has been preparing to defend his Uganda Open title which is now part of the Kenya Open Golf Limited-organized Safari Tour.
Finishing just a shot behind the leaders was Royal Nairobi Golf Club’s Dennis Saikwa and an amateur Daniel Nduva of Nyali. Saikwa made four birdies and five bogeys for his 72 while Nduva bogeyed the sixth and ninth at the front nine, with a birdie at the seventh while at the back nine, Nduva birdied the 12th and later on at the 17th though a double at the par four-16th denied him a chance of joining the three leaders at the top.
A total of 46 players including five amateurs all from the hosting club Nyali, turned up for the event being sponsored by Absa Group (Barclays Bank) and Magical Kenya.
Monday’s second round - which will determine the top 20 and who will proceed to the last two rounds - is set for 10am with the last team to tee off at 12.20pm.