Golf Park player David Wakhu played with his handbrake on but still managed to win the fourth leg of the Safari Tour after a final day round of one over par 73 at Sigona. In a tense final round that featured a three-way tie at the top, Wakhu took full advantage of the collapse of his rivals Edwin Mudanyi and Eric Ooko to breast the tape with an aggregate score of one under par and with it a pay cheque of Kshs 150,000.
After a bright start with a birdie on the opening hole, Wakhu ran into headwinds dropping three shots after three straight bogeys on number five, six and seven. “I just don’t know what went wrong! Suddenly my driver was misbehaving and I wasn’t getting on the greens on regulation,” a relieved Wakhu complained. Two back-to- back birdies on the ninth and 10th hole saw him calm his nerves for an error free back nine save for a single shot that he dropped on the par 4 sixteenth hole.
It was a case of being let off the hook by adversaries as Ooko and Mudanyi failed to rise to the occasion, gifting Wakhu the title with minimum resistance. Starting the day in pole position, Ooko and Mudanyi were slow off the blocks dropping a shot each on the opening hole. Things went further south for Mudanyi as he dropped four shots in four holes but was quick to minimize the damage with a birdie on the ninth. A terrible miscalculation on the par 4 sixteenth saw Mudanyi drop off the race with a costly double bogey.
“This was a very nervous round as all the three of us had a chance to win it. Since I was a shot behind Wakhu, I went for aggressive play on number 16 but unfortunately I hit the wrong side of the fairway in relation to the pin position so effectively I dropped one shot. I have never been in such a position before so I guess it was a good learning experience. Finishing second is a step up from the last outing so I am now hungrier for the ultimate prize,” Mudanyi conceded.
Battle-hardened Golf Park player Ooko had a relatively good start going into a joint lead with compatriot Wakhu on the fifth hole. He would soon surrender the fight after dropping three shots on the ensuing four holes to drop off the pace. In a case of jumping from the frying pan into the fire, Ooko lost the mettle on the back nine to head to the club house with a score of four over par 40, derailed by four bogeys and one double bogey.
Dismas Indiza secured the much-needed podium finish rallying home one over par 73 to claim a joint second finish alongside Ooko and Mudanyi. After starting off strongly with a decent one under par 35 on the front nine, two bogeys on the back nine effectively ended his slim hopes of catching the leader.
Today’s win is the second for Wakhu, an experienced journeyman, on the Safari Tour. He won the inaugural Safari Tour in Nyali in 2018 but has had to endure a prolonged trophy drought failing to win in the entire 2019 season. “I think my victory today is down to experience and consistency. The way I handled pressure today and generally throughout the week played to my advantage. This win has given me a shot of confidence going into the remaining events. I will take a brief break and go for a minor surgery to fix the troubling left heel,” he said.
Following the conclusion of the marathon four rounds, the Safari Tour takes a break ahead of the next events scheduled for Uganda in November.
Zimbabwe’s Robson Chinhoi tops the money list having accumulated Kshs 257,500 over three legs. He missed the opening round at Limuru. Indiza is second with Kshs 255,000 after registering a bonus-laden win at Vetlab last week and T2 at Sigona to erase painful memories of a missed cut at the Limuru season opener. Newcomer Samuel Njoroge completes the podium places on Kshs 250,000 following a consistent run that has seen him finish in the top five in all the four events. Wakhu on Kshs 246,000 after today’s victory and a string of mid-table finishes and Greg Snow on 206,000 complete the top five roll.
The event organizers were forced to change the prize money distribution, doing away with the bonus pool hold-back after players complained. Consequently, the winner was today paid Kshs 150,000 up from Kshs 105,000 with the Kshs 45,000 that had been previously earmarked for the bonus pool paid out unconditionally. Also to benefit from the realignment is the last place finish whose payout rose significantly to Kshs 10,000 from Kshs 5,000 in the previous rounds.
Several players gave the Sigona event a wide berth. They include Greg Snow, Kopan Timbe, Njuguna Ngugi, Ganeev Giddie, Nelson Simwa, Mathew Wahome, Richard Ainley, Mohit Mediratta and Nelson Mudanyi.
Leaderboard after Day 4
David Wakhu -1
Edwin Mudanyi +2
Eric Ooko +2
Dismas Indiza +2
Justus Madoya +4
J Wangai +4
Samuel Njoroge +4
Brian Njoroge +5
Samuel Njoroge +5
Simon Ngige +5
Jacob Okello +6