Starved of action for the last six weeks, 27 professional golfers from Kenya will be in Entebbe this week for the annual Uganda Golf Open 2021 challenge to be held from 1st to 4th December.
The Kenyans will come up against tough competition from the emerging golfers in Central Africa led by defending champion Robson Chinhoi of Zimbabwe in addition to the threat posed by Ugandans spearheaded by veteran Deo Akope, winner of the Nyali leg of Safari Tour.
It will be a tough mission for the Kenyan contingent led by veterans Dismas Indiza, Jacob Okello, Simon Ngige, Hesbon Kutwa, Eric Ooko and the youthful pros Mutahi Kibugu, Mathew Wahome and Edwin Mudanyi following a long period of inactivity. Since the conclusion of the last Safari Tour event in October, Kenyan pros have not been engaged in any meaningful competitions, a fact that will bring their match fitness and mental preparedness under sharp scrutiny.
“I don’t think the lengthy lay-off will actually affect us much. Since we came from Mombasa, all of us have been very much focused on this tournament. We have consistently prepared for this event and I am optimistic a Kenyan will win it this year,” said CJ Wangai, Captain of the Professional Golfers Association of Kenya.
Despite fielding the highest number of players last year-30, the Kenyans were unable to defend the title after defending champion Dismas Indiza finished sixth to surrender the crown to debutante Chinhoi. Despite the loss, it was a relatively successful outing as five Kenyans finished in the top 10 with Samuel Njoroge finishing highest in position three. Other star performers were Greg Snow (7th), Eric Ooko (T10) and David Wakhu (T10).
The Kenyan legion will be banking on history as they chase the Kshs 3.2 million cash prize, the highest payout on the Safari Tour this season, to be shared out among the top 30 players who make the second day cut.
“I am really looking forward to this event since I have never won it and its one I would love to have on my resume. The course is quite tricky especially off the tees but I believe I have prepared well for the challenge,” said Greg Snow.
Indiza is the most successful player at the tourney having won the event a record six times in the last 14 years. He won the event back-to-back from 2007 to 2012, apart from 2009, and went on to recapture the title in 2018. He has not been in fine form this season and has only managed one podium finish-T2 at Nyali- in the ongoing Safari Tour season.
Chinhoi has been preparing for the Uganda Open by participating in local events back at home. Last month, he won the Lilongwe Championship in Malawi and is expected to renew his fierce rivalry with Kenyans. Uganda’s Deo Akope, winner of the 2014 title will be banking on his last success which saw him clinch his first Safari Tour title at Nyali in October. A rare home win for Akope will bring some relief to Uganda’s passionate golf fans who have witnessed victory by home players only on three occasions in the last 15 years!
Apart from the lucrative cash on offer, the entire 100-man field will be chasing points in the “Road to Magical Kenya” league which will see eight Kenyan pros and two foreign pros clinch slots to next year’s Magical Kenya Open.