Kenya’s leading amateurs are set for a 36-hole face-off tomorrow at Muthaiga Golf Club as the qualifying round of the 99th Kenya Amateur Matchplay competition gets underway.
The field of 96 will be chopped to 32 tomorrow evening to pave way for a three-day knock-out series whose winner will earn a ticket to the Magical Kenya 2022.
With all the country’s top amateurs entered for the event, Isaac Makokha will face stiff competition in his bid to defend the title he won last year at Vetlab. Apart from the top Kenyans, Makokha will have to contend with the firepower of Tanzania’s trio of Victor Joseph, Godfrey Gwacha and Ally Isanzu who have given the contest an international feel after Uganda and Rwanda opted out. Since winning the matchplay championship last year, Makokha has not featured regularly in the Kenya Amateur Golf Championship, KAGC, events.
Michael Karanga, currently leading the KAGC Order of Merit is highly favoured to carry the day, if his current form is anything to go by. The Kiambu Golf Club player has already registered a hat trick of victories in the KAGC series and will be hoping to carry the form to Muthaiga in quest for his maiden appearance on the Magical Kenya stage. Though his fine run may come in handy during the 36-hole medal qualifier round, the matchplay knock out phase will test Karanga’s game to the fullest.
Another player to watch is Jay Sandhu, who lost to Makokha in last year’s final. Though not very active on the KAGC circuit, Sandhu had a good run on the Safari Tour besides clinching the Kenya Amateur Strokeplay title. He will be counting on his vast experience to reclaim the matchplay title.
Youngsters Adel Balala and Mutahi Kibugu are also expected to be in contention after near misses last year. The two players have been consistent in the KAGC series and on Safari Tour and should be match fit with Kibugu counting on home ground advantage to seal the Magical Kenya 2022 ticket. Other players in action at Muthaiga and currently featuring in the KAGC Order of Merit top 10 include Limuru Open champion Dennis Maara, Peter Rimui, Uganda Open champion John Lejirma, Paul Muchangi, James Kamenchu and Ebill Omollo.
It will be a test of endurance as the country’s top amateurs battle it out over the next four days. The winner will only emerge after seven rounds. The Kenya Amateur Matchplay Championship and the Kenya Amateur Strokeplay Championship are considered the most prestigious events on the Kenya Golf Union calendar.