Limuru Country Club’s Paul Muchangi on Sunday beat Golf Park’s William Odera 1-up at the 36th hole in the final match to become the new Kenya Amateur Match Play champion.
The off scratch Muchangi, who lost in the final in the 2018 event to Nyali’s Daniel Nduva, was leading by three holes after the end of the first 18 holes in the tournament which this year attracted an entry of 64 players drawn from all over the country.
However, Odera, a past winner, managed to reduce the margin to only one hole in the first few holes of the last 18 holes. He later levelled the scores by taking the 15th and 16th holes though Muchangi went up again at the 17th for the match to move to the last hole (36th) where the two halved the hole with pars for Muchangi to clinch the country’s top amateur golf title.
This victory now makes Muchangi the first amateur player to qualify for the 2020 Magical Kenya Open.
It was a long and tough battle for Muchangi, an expert in short game particularly putting, though it was his semi-final victory against Kenya’s number one amateur Samuel Njoroge of Kenya Railway Golf Club who he also beat 1-up, when his chances for victory became very clear.
Muchangi started the campaign with an easy 8-7 win over N. Kibe in the first round, then beat long-hitting Edwin Kiarie of Thika 5-3 in the second round.
However, his toughest matches besides the semis and final, were in the third and quarter final rounds where he met a strong opposition from Kiambu’s Steve Kiaro - who he finally managed to overpower him at the 16th hole to win 3-2.
Then came the quarter-final against Nyali’s Mathew Wahome, a match which went all the way to the 18th only for Muchangi to beat the former Coast Open champion 1-up.
“I have been putting at least eight hours of practice over the past three weeks to prepare for this event. My focus mostly was on the short game (chip and putt) but I must thank a friend Ngure Kimeria who advised me to tee off from the blue tees and I think it worked very well for me," said Muchangi, who will now be playing in the Kenya Open for his first time next year.
He qualified for the Open in 2016 though he could not play since his handicap was over the required handicap of off scratch. “I will play in most of the Kenya Amateur Golf Championship (KAGC) series in order to prepare for the 2020 Open," added Muchangi.
Odera had earlier beaten Edwin Murungi 4-3 in the first round and Moi Lemoshira 3-2 in the second. In the third round, he beat Elias Indeche 2-up to qualify for the quarter-final where he outlasted Railway’s John Lejirmah before beating the tough playing Dennis Maara of Limuru. This was Odera’s toughest encounter as he had to travel all the way to the 21st hole before beating Maara.