Sports

Dramatic finish sees Italian crowned Kenya Open champion

Flash, camera, action! This was the dramatic manner in which the 2018 Barclays Kenya Open winner Italian Lorenzo Gagli had to fight for the title after regular play saw him tied at 11 under par 273 with Sweden’s Jens Fahrbring to go for play-offs.

All attention of the packed Muthaiga Golf Club was turned to the par three hole 13 as the two had to go for three rounds of the playoffs to decide the winner. The first two rounds of play saw the two level the hole to force a third round, Fahrbring losing his tee shot to the massive water hazard and thus losing a shot which was his undoing.

“If there was a tournament to win in this year’s Challenge then it is the Kenya Open and I am overwhelmed by my win. I has not sunk in yet as it was a grinding four rounds but I kept my calm through them all,” said an excited Lorenzo immediately after sinking his last ball which he threw into the water hazard after the dramatic win.

The 32-year-old, who turned pro in 2006, is not your everyday rich kid as he was introduced to golf by his father who was a caddie at Ugolino golf club in Florence, Italy and now runs a fruits and vegetable shop. He progressed to the Challenge Tour in 2008 via the Alps Tour where he won three times to guarantee his place in the top five on the order of merit.

He narrowly missed out on a maiden European Tour title after finishing one shot behind winner Lee Slattery at the 2011 Bankia Madrid Masters.

During the four days at the Open, Lorenzo was not a stand out on the leader board as he played to a back-to-back three under par 68 to make the cut and followed it up with a two under par 69 on the third round. He was consistent on the third day as he bagged another three under par 68 to head to the play-offs.

“I was patient with my swings and I dealt with the course one hole at a time. My consistency and ability to concentrate helped a lot. I look forward to a good golfing year.

I can’t decide where I will be playing next because I am trying to wrap my mind around winning the Kenya Open, but I might play in Morocco or go back to Madrid,” added Lorenzo.

Awarding the winner, President Uhuru Kenyatta said: “It is unfortunate we did not have a Kenyan winner but I am sure will get there. As we look to have the event as part of the European Tour, the government will increase its sponsorship from this year’s Sh1.1million to Sh2.2million for the next edition.”

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