What you need to know:
- Initially, 54 players had enlisted for the Sh2 million event, although Malawi’s Paul Chidale pulled out of the tournament after missing his flight to Nairobi from Lilongwe
- Leading the campaign for the top prize of Sh330,000 will be Zimbabweans Robson Chinhoi, Nyasha Muyambo and Visitor Mapwanya
- For the Kenyans, Vet Lab Sports Club’s Mike Kisia seems to have picked up his usual top form at the right time though he missed the Limuru title narrowly
Some 51 professional golfers and four amateurs from Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe will converge on the par 72 PGA Baobab course at Vipingo Ridge in Kilifi County Sunday for the first round of the third leg of 2022 Safari Tour Series which tees off from 10am.
Initially, 54 players had enlisted for the Sh2 million event, although Malawi’s Paul Chidale pulled out of the tournament after missing his flight to Nairobi from Lilongwe. Royal Nairobi’s Alfred Nandwa, and Limuru’s John Kagiri also pulled out of the tournament.
Leading the campaign for the top prize of Sh330,000 will be Zimbabweans Robson Chinhoi, Nyasha Muyambo and Visitor Mapwanya. The three have been enjoying great form, with Chinhoi having won the opening leg of the tour, the Uganda Open at Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort in Kigo Uganda, while Muyambo won the second leg at Limuru Country Club. Mapwanya clinched the Malawi Open on Friday.
“My game has not been very good. I am not hitting the ball the way I want, but I will see how it goes here this week,’’ Chinhoi said before a practise round at Vipingo Saturday following the cancellation of the pro-am. He shot 11 under par at Lilongwe Golf Club Malawi to finish just a shot behind the winner Mapwanya.
The Malawi Open is not however a Safari Tour event and it does not offer points towards the Magical Kenya Open, hence the interest for most the players trying to play well at Vipingo this week not just for the money but the Tour points.
“I have a bit of confidence now after winning at Malawi and if I manage to take off well here, who knows what can happen,’’ said Mapwanya, who is yet to win a Safari Tour event.
From Uganda, veteran pro Deo Akope won last year’s Coast leg of the Tour at Nyali Golf and Country Club. He did not play well at Lake Victoria Serena where he missed the cut but his compatriot Ronald Rugumayo who has been playing this season, came second to Chinhoi.
For the Kenyans, Vet Lab Sports Club’s Mike Kisia seems to have picked up his usual top form at the right time though he missed the Limuru title narrowly. “I have done a round here, and the course looks fine for low scoring if the wind remains the way it is at the moment. I feel I can bring low scores this week,’’ said Kisia.
Also going for the title is Justus Madoya from the Great Rift Valley Golf Resort who said his game is ok at the moment and hopes to play well at Vipingo after doing two practise rounds. “You have to keep the ball low here because of the wind, while the greens looks fine, a bit slow but very trick breaks,’’ said Madoya, a former Uganda Open champion.
Muthaiga’s Mutahi Kibugu also said he has been hitting the ball well and depending on how he starts in the first round, he would like to post his first Safari Tour title.
This time the pros are joined by a lady pro Irene Nakalembe from Uganda and two lady amateurs Naomi Wafula and Jacquilyne Walter both based at Vipingo.
Former Kenya Amateur Stroke play champion Adel Balala is also drawn to battle it out for the amateur title. Teeing off is set for 10am with the last team taking off at 12.40pm.