Lynette Matheka @PeopleSports11
Nineteen Kenyans are among 156 golfers who will be competing for a share of the Sh62.5 million kitty as the 50th edition of the Kenya Open Golf Tournament tees off at par 71 Muthaiga Golf Course this morning.
The local pros are joined by a combination of seasoned international professionals and exciting new talents after the tournament became the most lucrative leg of the European Tour Challenge after the increase in prize money following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive in the previous edition.
The 19 include Kenya’s most celebrated professional Dismas Indiza, who will also be celebrating his 50th birthday. Indiza, who will be featuring at his 21st Kenya Open, is keen to win the elusive title after more than two decades of trying.
“My golf improves day by day and they say experience is the best teacher. My swing is currently perfect, my putting is better than before and if I avoid some previous mistakes, I’m confident I can win the Open this year and it would be a perfect gift for my 50th birthday,” said Indiza, whose best performance in the competition was in 2008 when he finished tied eighth.
The country’s hopes are also pegged on Jacob Okello who is the only Kenyan to have come close to winning the Open title in 1998 when he finished second. In 2006 and 2007, he had successful back-to-back finishes where he managed a tied fifth and tied fourth positions respectively.
“It’s very possible for a Kenyan to win the Open and it will be won by a local very soon. It’s not a matter of if but when,” said Okello, who will be making his 19th appearance.
Other local golfers to watch are Windsor’s Riz Charania and Thika’s Simon Ngige who, alongside Indiza, qualified automatically having made the cut in last year’s event.
Three former Kenya Open winners, Gary Boyd, Robert Dinwiddle and Sebastian Soderberg are also teeing off alongside the local pros. On the list if elites are more than 10 European Tour winners and 11 Challenge Tour champions.
Boyd won the 2009 Kenya Open with a total gross score of 13-under 271. In 2008, he finished fifth. He also featured at the 2014, 2015 and 2017 editions, finishing 63rd last year.