Unheralded Ndumberi Club golfer Mike Karanga upset the form book to win the 62nd edition of the Sigona Bowl as the Kenya Amateur Golfing Championship, KAGC, got underway. Karanga posted a modest eight over par 224 ahead of tournament favourites Paul Muchangi, Adel Balala, Jay Sandhu and John Lejirma after a grueling 54-hole contest at the par 72 Sigona Golf Club.
After a slow start in the first round when he posted a messy seven over par 79, Karanga recovered in the second round carding one under par 71 for the day’s best score to move to third position at the end of the opening day. Starting the final day two shots behind overnight leader Josphat Rono, the Ndumberi man maintained his cool to post an impressive two over par 74, on a day when form deserted all the top seeds.
“I still cannot believe that I am the winner. I have played several KGU events but I have never been this lucky. My game was on point this weekend, especially the driver. I am now more confident and I hope to go all the way in the KAGC series with an eye on Magical Kenya 2022,” said Karanga, who also celebrated his 26th birthday today.
Despite finishing second, Muchangi’s inconsistency was his main undoing failing to grab the leadership on the final day after the inexplicable collapse of Rono. After shooting a high four over par 76 in the opening round, Muchangi recovered in the second round carding one over par 73 to close the day in a strong second position, one stroke behind the leader. Sadly he endured a torrid final round that saw him card five over par 77 to all but extinguish his hopes of winning the tournament.
“I was on course to winning this tournament sadly, I shot a nine on the par five fourth hole and this just threw me off balance. Save for that one mistake, I have had a very good game here,” said Muchangi, the former Kenya Amateur Matchplay champion.
Adel Balala will also be looking at his performance at the Sigona Bowl as another missed opportunity after he failed to produce the form that he had been exhibiting lately on the Safari Tour. Widely regarded among the elite in the amateur circles, the Nyali Club golfer had an underwhelming outing rarely threatening the leading pack and had to settle for third finish, failing to break par on all the three occasions.
The reigning Kenya Amateur Strokeplay Champion Jay Sandhu left the tournament with mixed feelings after settling for fourth position despite taking the outright lead in the opening round. After posting an encouraging level par start Sandhu, who is warming up for Magical Kenya, collapsed in the second round after posting nine over par 81 but a modest four over par 76 on the closing day was enough to earn him a top five finish. Another top gun, John Lejirma, the reigning Uganda Open champion, found the going at Sigona tough and only managed to post +16 for a T5 finish.
It was largely an uneventful season opener as only two players, Karanga and Rono, managed to post under par scores throughout the three rounds- an identical 71 in the second round. The average scoring for the top 10 placed players over the three rounds was 75.5, 74.1 and 75.9. The tournament’s lowest score was 71 while the highest was 101 in the event that was reserved for players playing off handicap 10 and below.
The players will take a two-week break before proceeding to Nyeri Golf Club for the Mt Kenya Championship, the second event in the KAGC calendar. 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.
Mike Karanga +8
Paul Muchangi +10
Adel Balala +12
Jay Sandhu +13
John Lejirma +16
Ronal Malde +16
Peter Rimui +17
Ebill Omollo +18
Kush Mediratta +18
John Gitonga +19