At the beginning of the year, John Lejirma set himself three ambitious targets; clinch the Kenya Golf Union double (Matchplay and Strokeplay championships), win the Tannahill Shield with Team Railway and play off handicap +4. Well, Lej is firmly on course after clinching the Kenya Amateur Matchplay title at Muthaiga Golf Club yesterday a feat that earned him a ticket to Magical Kenya Open 2022.
To say Lejirma’s star is shining is an understatement. His exploits at Muthaiga come barely seven months after he won the Uganda Open title in Kampala. “That was no doubt a light-bulb moment for me. I now play with a lot of confidence. There’s no single moment I ever doubt my swing hence my consistency,” Lejirma said.
And the coveted ticket to Magical Kenya Open 2022 did not come easy. En route to being crowned champion, Lej had to play eight rounds of golf including a nail-biting 30 holes final against Vetlab’s Ebill Omollo. “This was my toughest moment on the course. I can assure you the matchplay championship was very competitive and most players lost because of failing the endurance test. I have been training very hard in the gym and it really paid off,” he said.
The Kenya Railway Golf Club player has long been punching below his weight. Success has long eluded Lejirma in the local championships though he started exhibiting signs of becoming Kenya One late last year when he finished third in the Kenya Amateur Matchplay Championship. The momentum has seen him perform consistently in the Kenya Amateur Golf Championship, KAGC, series where he is currently placed fifth in the Order of Merit. “My priority now is to win the KAGC series so that I become the undisputed Kenya One. Winning KAGC will give me impetus a head of Magical Kenya. It is unfortunate that currently we don’t have international tournaments for amateurs as this would have really given me good exposure when turning out for Team Kenya,” said Lejirma.
His rise to stardom is more by chance granted that Lejirma’s ambition at the time of discovering the game of golf seven years ago was just to caddie. After changing his mind, he would later excel in caddie competitions and was rewarded with membership at Golf Park in 2015 before moving to Railway in 2017 where he landed a job as a Golf Administrator.
Now playing off +2 handicap, 29-year old Lejirma is still optimistic of playing off +4 before the end of the year. His plans to turn pro will have to wait a bit longer as Lej will play at Magical Kenya Open next year as an amateur.