Home player Jay Sandhu moved a step closer to qualification for Magical Kenya 2021 after today’s superb round of one under par 71 saw him open a five shots lead at the ongoing Kenya Amateur Strokeplay championship at Royal Nairobi Golf Club.
Taking home advantage to the fullest, Sandhu made a perfect start on day three picking two birdies on the par 3 sixth and par 5 seventh to wrap the front nine at two under par 34. Two dropped shots on the par 4 number 10 and par 5 number 14 did not dampen Sandhu’s spirit as he went on to pick a birdie on number 15 for a one over par 37 on the back nine.
Since the opening round, everything has been going for Sandhu. If he maintains the poise he has exhibited so far, Sandhu may make a comeback to Magical Kenya more than a decade since he last graced the event as an amateur. “I felt a lot better today. I spend quite some time on the range yesterday fixing a few things especially the driver. I am happy it paid off. Tomorrow, I shall just keep my head down, not to be carried by the five shot lead and just focus on getting the job done,” said Sandhu.
A late charge today by Muthaiga Golf Club youngster Mutahi Kibugu has set up an exciting finish to proceedings tomorrow. Starting the day in the seventh position, Kibugu shot an impressive two under par 70, the best score of the day, to move to second on the leaderboard. A dropped shot on the first hole after the youngster drove to the left of the fairway was quickly erased by two birdies on number three and five for level par at the interval. A fired up Kibugi played a flawless round on the back nine sinking two birdies on the par 5 fourteenth and par 4 sixteenth for a two under par 34.
“I am so happy that my putter finally showed up. Today’s performance has given me good momentum going in to the final round. Trying to overturn a five shot lead is quite daunting so I shall have to be very aggressive tomorrow,” said Kibugi.
It was a bad day in office for Adel Balala, the round two overnight leader, after the Nyali Club player carded six over par 78 to drop to third position. A topsy-turvy round headlined by a triple bogey on the par 4 ninth hole, a double bogey on the par 3 sixth plus four bogeys saw the youngster’s challenge begin to fade at the penultimate stage.
Homeboy Kevin Juma and Dennis Maara played a conservative round to remain in the top five, hoping to spring an upset tomorrow. Juma carded four over par 76 in around headlined by three birdies, four bogeys and two double bogeys. Maara played two worse, to drop one step down the leaderboard registering three back to back bogeys from number seven to number nine.
The Kenya Amateur Stroke-play championship is the elite tournament for the country’s top amateurs. A part from earning the coveted ticket to Magical Kenya, the title comes with priceless bragging rights. More than 90 players entered this year’s event, the second “major” on the Kenya Golf Union calendar besides the Kenya Match-play championship.
LEADERBOARD AFTER DAY 3
Gross Aggregate Score
1 J. Sandhu +2
2 M.Kibugu +7
3 A. Balala +8
4 D. Maara +9
5 K. Juma +10
6 S.Karari +13
T7 T.Malik +14
T7 Q. Bhatti +14
9 P. Rimui +17
10 J.Kamenchu +18