A string of six birdies propelled Thika Club’s Simon Ngige to the top of the leaderboard as the seventh leg of the Safari Tour got underway today at the par 71 Nyali Golf Club.
Ngige was in fine form on the front nine sinking three back to back birdies on the 7th, 8th and 9th holes for an impressive two under par 34 at the interval. However a bogey on the 10th followed by two back to back bogeys on the par four 12th and 13th holes checked Ngige’s momentum, a blight that saw him card one over par 36 for an outright overnight lead.
Golf Park’s Eric Ooko enjoyed a good start too sinking four birdies to finish the day level par 71. Two bogeys apiece on the front and back nine saw Ooko close the day in a strong position to challenge for the title going into the remaining rounds.
Muthaiga’s Nelson Mudanyi and Greg Snow also signaled their intent to win the Nyali event carding one over par 73 to stay in touch with the overnight leader.
The leading pack is well aware of the danger posed by Zimbabwe’s Robson Chinhoi who shot 73 today to settle in position five. Chinhoi, renown for finishing tournaments strongly, will be happy finishing the opening day in the top five albeit three shots behind the overnight leader. During the sixth leg event at Great Rift Resort, Chinhoi exhibited mental strength to charge 15 places up the leaderboard to finish second after an uncharacteristic slow start had left him languishing in the 21st position on the opening day, 18 shots behind the leader.
Nigeria’s Andrew Odoh endured an unpleasant return to the Safari Tour when he carded seven over par 78 to finish the day T23. After missing the six opening rounds of the 2020/21 season, Odoh will have to be at his best to clinch one of the two Magical Kenya slots reserved for the foreign pros. With Chinhoi enjoying an unassailable lead over the foreign legion, Odoh will have to dig deep at Nyali and the remaining rounds at Muthaiga and Karen to stave off the challenge from Uganda’s Phillip Kasozi, Deo Akope, Abbey Bagalana and Rwanda’s Alloys Nsabimana.
The Nyali tournament is also very crucial for locals Samuel Njoroge, John Wangai, Edwin Mudanyi and Jastas Madoya who stand a good chance to seal one of the eight places reserved for Kenyans at the 2021 Magical Kenya tournament. Order of Merit leader Greg Snow and runner up Dismas Indiza enjoy a healthy lead going into the remaining three rounds and are all but assured of their places at the Karen event. If they manage to maintain the consistency that has seen them continuously finish in the top 10 in most events, Ngige, Ooko and David Wakhu will definitely feature at Magical Kenya.
50 players, including three amateurs registered for the Nyali event. Only the top placed 20 players plus ties will proceed to the third round to battle for the Kshs 1 million prize money.
DAY ONE LEADERBOARD
1 Simon Ngige -1
2 Eric Ooko Par
T3 Nelson Mudanyi +1
T3 Greg Snow +1
T5 Robson Chinhoi +2
T5 David Wakhu +2
T5 Jastas Madoya +2
T8 John Wangai +3
T8 Gift Willy +3
T10 Kopan Timbe +4
T10 Michael Madahana +4
T10 Dismas Indiza +4