Kenya Open: Here are the most dramatic finishes in the event’s history

  • March 9, 2021
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In the tournament’s 50 year old history, Kenya Open has never been short of drama, more so on the final day. On seven occasions, the winner has been decided after a playoff. T-OFF News looks at some of the most exciting playoff moments in recent times.

Jacob Okello (Kenya) vs. Ricardo González (Argentina) Muthaiga Golf Club 1998

The 1998 Kenya Open remains the most memorable in the minds of Kenyan golf enthusiasts. The memories rekindle both bitterness and pride that the ‘son of the soil’ almost hoisted the prestigious trophy. No one had expected the 30 year old Jacob Okello to put up such a strong performance, let alone challenge for the top honours, in a star-studded field of the European Tour Championship event.

The duel between the two started right from the first round when the Argentine shot 69 to go one up on Jacob. González would open a comfortable three shot lead on Jacob on day two despite the Kenyan’s impressive 67 round. But not take it lying down, Jacob shot an impressive round of 66 in the third round to even matters going into the final round. After a cagey final round, the two protagonists shot an identical round of 69 to stretch the game into a playoff which Jacob lost.

“I remember that afternoon as if it was yesterday. Having been on top of the leaderboard with four holes to play, it’s unfortunate I couldn’t complete the job. Honestly, I didn’t deserve to lose but inexperience cost me dearly. But I have since overcome the setback,” Jacob reminisces.

González went on to enjoy a relatively successful career in the paid ranks winning several events on the European Tour, the climax of his career being several appearances on the elite PGA tour.

Fans closely following playoff proceedings at a past event

Haydn Porteous (S. Africa) vs. Brandon Stone (S. Africa) Karen Club 2015

The two South Africans slugged it out to a -17 gross finish in contrasting styles. The red-hot Porteous had taken the game by the scruff of the neck opening a four shot lead on Stone after the opening two rounds. Undeterred, Stone turned the game on its head shooting an impressive 67 to take a one shot lead on day three, thanks to Porteous calamitous round of 72. A cat and mouse game ensued in the final round which Porteous emerged on top to restore parity after carding 68, one better than his challenger.  

Haydn prevailed in the playoff wrapping up proceedings on the 18th hole shoot out round. Since winning at Karen, Porteous has managed two victories on the European Tour notably the 2016 Joburg Open and the 2017 D+D Real Czech Masters. The 28 year old Stone is also performing relatively well on the Tour having won three events so far.

Lorenzo Gagli (Italy) vs. Jens Fahrbring (Sweden) Muthaiga 2018

This is the contest that is still fresh in the minds of most fans. After shooting an identical -11, the two top players proceeded to the dreaded sudden-death playoff at the tricky number 13 short hole. The match was forced into playoff after Fahrbring produced an astonishing round of 64 on the penultimate day before following it up with a steady round of 67 to unexpectedly charge to the summit of the leaderboard. It took three playoff attempts for Gagli to eventually triumph. The win saw the Italian regain the European Tour status in 2019 but he has not made any impact on the trot. The Swede too, is yet to win any title on the Tour.

Other players who have won through playoffs include Zimbabwean Marc Cayeux in 2004, South African Ashley Roestoff in 2001 and England’s Paul Carman in 1994.

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