Mediamax Network Limited

Mini battle at Karen Masters

Emmanuel Masinde

The stage is set for a bruising battle as the Pro-am of the KCB Karen Masters tees off today.

A two-day event, the Pro-am will offer local amateur golfers a once in a lifetime opportunity to brush shoulders with visiting Sunshine Tour professionals as well as the local pros entered for this year’s edition.

The foreign legion who will be joined by the 32 Kenyan professional golfers and four local amateurs for the tournament proper on Thursday arrived in the country on Sunday.

For the professionals, it’s an opportunity to practice as well as familiarise with the par 72 Karen Country Club course conditions well in time before the tournament properly tees off  from Thursday to Sunday.

The main event will this time feature four rounds as opposed to the three preferred in the inaugural edition last year.

On Thursday, 156 players will tussle for the blue jacket and the $150,000 (Sh15 million) prize money which is up for grabs.

“We see this event as a key anchor to our focus on promoting sports in Africa.

It will go a long way in boosting sports tourism,” said KCB Director of Marketing and Communication Angela Mwirigi.

According the Pro-am draws, Christine Ocholla will make up the first group teeing off at 8.20 this morning alongside South African professional Thabang Simon.

The Soweto Country Club professional is determined to up his putting which saw him miss the cut at the Sun City Challenge last month and Big Easy Tour 6 last week.

“At Sun City, I did not putt well. I hit the ball well, but my putting still needs some attention.

I have been struggling with my putting for the past few weeks. I lost at the IGT as well and if I had putted well I could have won that thing. My putting was just out. But from tee to green I am happy. I am hitting a lot of greens and lot of fairways. I will just have to make those putts,” said Simon.

The 42-year-old South African, who makes up the field of 156 entries for the KBC Karen Masters, is pleased with the discipline he has introduced into his game of late which he believes helped him do well on the Big Easy Tour, besides missing the cut at BET 6 last week.