Several leading professional players today boycotted the Safari Tour fourth leg tournament at Sigona Golf Club as the tussle between Kenya Open Golf Limited-KOGL, organizers of Safari Tour, and Professional Golfers of Kenya-PGK reached a crescendo.
At the centre of the dispute is a demand by PGK that KOGL increases the prize money which “is not viable for pros”. In a terse letter to the Safari Tour organizers, several players under the ambit of PGK last week threatened to boycott the remaining events on the Safari Tour calendar if KOGL does not accede to their demand.
In the petition dated 21st October, the players are demanding that the prize money per event be increased to Kshs 3 million from the current Kshs 1 million on offer for all local events. The players are also demanding to have a say in the running of the event by being incorporated in the Safari Tour Sub Committee “as is normally the case in most international tours”.
Other concerns raised in the petition include a demand for the waiver of the Kshs 3,000 entry fees, review of course set up procedures “which has been bordering on illegal and done without the consultation or involvement of any PGK member or Safari Tour player” and reining in of referees whom they accuse of being harsh and issuing unfair rulings during events to the detriment of players.
“This letter serves as a petition from all members of PGK who are Safari Tour players to you to respond to us within the next two days,” reads the petition.
There was uncertainty over the staging of the Sigona event following the expiry of the ultimatum on Friday as players were in deep confusion since the Safari Tour organizers had not responded at the expiry of the 2-day ultimatum.
Speaking to T-OFF News on Friday, Vincent Wang’ombe KOGL General Manager acknowledged receipt of the petition noting that the matter will be deliberated upon in the next KOGL board meeting. “We do not have a meeting scheduled this week or next week. We shall deliberate on the issue during our scheduled meeting in November,” said Wang’ombe.
Last week the players held an informal meeting at Royal Golf Club during which the matters raised in the petition were discussed. What is not clear is whether the players were unanimous on the demands expressed in the petition as they seem split especially on the event boycott stand. Also splitting the players is the issue of the two-day ultimatum some feeling the matter can be amicably handled through structured discussions with the event organizers.
Among the top players missing at the ongoing Sigona event include Greg Snow, Kopan Timbe, Njuguna Ngugi, Ganeev Giddie, Nelson Mudanyi, Mathew Wahome, Mohit Mediratta and Richard Ainley. The Sigona round, which is the fourth after similar events were held in quick succession at Limuru, Royal and Vetlab has attracted about 30 pros including foreigners Chinhoi, Phillip Kasozi, Paul Chidale and Abbey Bagallana.
Not to be dampened by the shenanigans, Chinhoi raced to an early lead alongside David Wakhu with a score of three under par 69 during today’s opening round. Justus Madoya and Edwin Mudanyi also enjoyed a productive day on the course carding two under par 70 for a second position tie ahead of amateur Adel Balala, Samuel Njoroge and Anthony Juma’s one under par score in a round that saw seven players register under par scores. The event continues tomorrow.
Leaderboard after Day 1
Robson Chinhoi 69
David Wakhu 69
Justus Madoya 70
Edwin Mudanyi 70
Adel Balala 71
Samuel Njoroge 71
Anthony Juma 71
John Wangai 73
Brian Njoroge 73
Phillip Kasozi 73
Paul Muchangi 73
Eric Ooko 73
Simon Ngige 73