By Larry Ngala
Nyanza-based Alice Awiti is the overall winner of the sixth leg of the Safaricom Golf Tour held at the nine-hole Eldoret Golf Club course on April 23.
The high handicapper (54) Awiti carded 49 points on the tough course, a score made up of 23 points in the out-ward nine and 26 in the closing nine, to book herself a place in the grand finale in Vipingo in Kilifi County in August.
Awiti was surprised by the win, the very first in her short golfing career. “My win today is a big surprise in my golfing career. This is my first time winning a tournament and it really makes me feel proud and to work hard for more. Though my performance was up to mark, I experienced some few challenges in my putting, which I will now have to go and work on as I prepare to compete in the grand finale,” she said.
Awiti fended off the challenge from Anthony Yano, Sylvia Tanui and Nilam Shah, in a four-ball tournament, holing a birdie on the seventh, 11th and 15th holes, with three pars to emerge the tournament’s winner.
The senior event drew 140 golfers from the North Rift, Nyanza and Western region counties. Awiti joins former caddie Cyprian Bundi of Nanyuki, junior Golfer Leo Gitonga (Limuru), Zain Manji (Muthaiga), Lydia Jebichii (Nyanza) and Simon Kimatu of Machakos, as the list of competitors qualifying for the grand finale continues to grow. The five emerged overall winners in the first five legs of the tour.
In the men’s category, home player Anand Lakhani scored 43 points to emerge the winner ahead Ken Kogo, who carded 41 points.
Meanwhile, veteran lady golfer Fatma Some posted 44 points to claim the top spot in the ladies’ category, winning ahead of Catherine Gatau, who scored 41 points.
In the subsidiary events, Peter Maritim and Faith Chemutai won the longest drive contest, with Risper Barasa taking home the Safaricom Staff Prize after garnering 37 points.
During the Junior event on April 24, home player Danny Chelogoi and Marya Nyambura emerged as overall winners. The event attracted 62 players drawn mostly from North Rift and Western regions. Chelogoi shot 80 gross while Nyambura posted 92 gross.
However, winning the Boys’ seven years and under title was Axel Mwaura on 57, followed in second place by Bhoumik Mishra on 80. Irene Asiyo topped the girls’ eight years and under with a score of 46 gross, winning ahead of Lynette Zawadi on 50.
In the boys’ eight to nine years competition, Kyran Juma fired 44 gross to win ahead of Adrian Tororei. On the other hand, Pendo Sang clinched the girls’ nine to 10 years division with a score of 53, five shots better than Susan Chelagat.
Meanwhile, Jadiel Kipngetich was along in the 10 year-old boys’ division where he shot 75 gross, as Ryan Kivui on 84 emerged the winner in the 11 years boys’ category, where Alpha Sabulei was second on 90.
Vivienne Atundo beat Nevus Taabu seven shots to win the Girls’ 11 to 12 division, where she had posted 100 gross. Wayne Kimtai emerged the best in the boys’ 12 years with a score of 115 gross, winning by just one shot from Saiam Radia. On the other hand, Sasha Jemtumo clinched the 13 to 14 girls’ section, where she fired 112 gross. Stacy Tororei came second on 120 after a countback, while in the same age category for the boys, Thomas Nderitu posted 111 gross to win ahead of Brandon Kimutai on 121.
And finally, in the 15 years and over girls’ category, Nancy Wangechi posted 108 to win ahead of Rita Butit on 115, while winning the boys title was Zadick Tanui on 85 gross, followed by Nelson Okoth on 88 gross.
Safaricom, which has set aside Ksh100 million for the tour, is staging a total of 14 tournaments, including a similar number of junior events as part of its commitment to support the development of golf through the Junior Golf Foundation (JGF), which has embarked on a campaign to tap and nurture young talent. Besides the tournaments, the foundation has also been using the events to register new juniors who would like to take up the game.
The JGF membership is Ksh1,000, renewed annually. This gives the JGF members access to play at any golf club at a small fee of Ksh120.