The stage is now set for the 2019 KCB Karen Masters, after the official launch of the event at Karen Country Club on Thursday.
Tournament director Andy Watt said he expected a field of 100 players from the Sunshine Tour while the rest of the players will come from 20 different countries in Africa including hosts Kenya which will be represented by 27 golfers.
In addition, Kenya will also enter four amateurs whose names will be submitted by the Kenya Golf Union.
Speaking after receiving a Sh70 Million cheque from the title sponsors KCB through the Group Chief Operating Officer Sam Makome, Watt said he was very excited that the event which started as a club event marking the club’s 80th anniversary as become an international event thanks to the great support of KCB.
“We are looking forward for this year’s event where besides the main event and the Pro-Am, we will also have the juniors chip and putt competition which proved very popular. At the same time, we will try and organize a junior clinic by the professionals," said Watt.
Makome on the other hand said out of the Sh70 million, Sh15 million will be prize fund while the rest of the money will be used for organisation. Currently, KCB has been running a series of events where the local professionals have been participating.
"We will have 30 amateurs drawn from various clubs who will participate in the Pro-Am event before the main competition. We are hoping to see atleast 5,000 spectators this time as opposed to last year’s 2,000," said Makome.
He said the continued backing by the Sunshine Tour, one of the world’s major golf events, has raised the profile of the tournament, exposing pros and amateurs to the allure of playing at such a world class event and effectively growing golf in Africa.
“The tournament has grown in stature, and we are delighted to welcome top class golfers in our country. We are redefining the golfing experience in the region,” added Makome.
This year’s Karen Masters, a fully sanctioned Sunshine Tour event, is set for June 26-30 with the Pro-Am set for June 25 at the same venue. Speaking at the same function, KCB Director of Marketing Angela Mwirigi said more events in the KCB Road to Karen Masters will be held even after this year’s Masters, to keep the spirit of the event alive.
She said KCB had invited other corporate organisations such as Johnnie Walker, Standard Group, D.T. Dobie, and Coca Cola which will enhance the experience at the village for the thousands of golf fans.
Professional Golfers of Kenya (PGK) chairman Charan Thethy said of the 27 pros, 21 will be selected from the on- going KCB Road to Karen Masters golf series, while the list also include the four players who made cut in last year’s Masters, and an additional two slots were given to the two Kenyans who made cut in this year’s Magical Kenya Open.
He thanked KCB who its continued support to the local professionals over the past 17 years, saying the Karen Masters has created a big opportunity for local professionals to make their way to the major tours in the world. “It is up to us now to make full use of this great opportunity which offers a great chance of playing in the European," said Thethy.