The country’s leading amateur golf players will renew their rivalry over the weekend at the 62nd Sigona Bowl tournament as the Kenya Amateur Golf Challenge, KAGC, series gets under way. The par 72 Sigona course will host 96 top golfers- all playing below handicap 10- as the amateurs begin the season-long chase for points to be crowned the country’s golfer of the year.
True to its tradition, the Sigona Bowl was oversubscribed as the country’s top amateurs jostled for a chance to not only bag the crucial points towards the order of merit but also to participate in the prestigious event.
Fresh from winning the Uganda Open tournament, John Lejirma will be seeking to assert his authority as the country’s best amateur. Playing off handicap +2, the Kenya Railway Golf Club player finally registered his maiden win in Kampala in December and will be hard pressed to maintain the form that saw him clinch the title. Lejirma has long remained in the shadows of more consistent players in the amateur circuit and will be seeking to fill the void left by compatriot Samuel Njoroge who turned pro late last year.
Another player to watch is Adel Balala. The Nyali Club golfer has been active on the Safari Tour following last year’s cancellation of the KAGC series. He has indeed taken the fight to the experienced pros making the cut in most of the rounds so far. In fact, he finished in the top 10 during last week’s round at Great Rift Valley. Balala had also a strong finish in 2020 when he finished T2 at the Kenya Amateur Strokeplay championship.
It will be a rare outing for the reigning Kenya Amateur Strokeplay champion Jay Sandhu. Arguably the most experienced golfer in the amateur circles, Sandhu will be using the tournament to sharpen his game ahead of the Magical Kenya Open tournament slated for March this year. Interestingly, the Royal Nairobi Golf Club player doesn’t feature in many KAGC events, more so outside Nairobi, but he has managed to maintain consistency over the years. A strong show at Sigona will give Sandhu the much-needed boost in confidence as he waits to make a comeback at Kenya Open after a 15 year absence.
A strong contingent of youthful players from Mombasa will be out to upset the form book. The South Africa based trio of Andrew Wahome, Zayan Din and Nathan Ng’weno is currently in top shape and will be banking on their international exposure to rule the roost. The young charges who are currently undergoing high level training in South Africa will be seeking to emulate ‘big brothers’ Mathew Wahome who has since turned pro and Daniel Nduva currently playing in S.A.
Other players who will definitely be in contention for the title include the experienced Paul Muchangi, Simon Karari, Raphael Leming’ani, Peter Rimui and Kevin Juma.
The resumption of the KAGC series is a big welcome for the amateurs after the event, run by Kenya Golf Union, was cancelled last year in the wake of the Covid 19 rampage. The 2021 calendar features 22 events running from January to December. The series will be used to select players to Magical Kenya 2022. The final ranking is determined from points accumulated in a player’s best 10 rounds during the calendar year.