Kenya’s number top amateur player will be crowned this week as the curtains come down on the Kenya Amateur Golf Championship, KAGC, series at Nyali Golf Club.
In what has turned out to be a two-horse race, current leader Adel Balala will take on Michael Karanga to determine the country’s number one amateur in a battle that bragging rights aside, a place in the Magical Kenya 2022 will be at stake.
Pressure will be on Karanga who must win the KAGC series to be guaranteed of a slot at Magical Kenya as his title rivals Balala and John Lejirma have already earned their tickets. The two booked their slots after winning the Kenya Amateur Strokeplay Championship and the Kenya Amateur Matchplay event respectively.
Currently, Karanga is in the second position 26 points behind Balala and will have to sweep the 80 points available and pray that the leader falters in the Nyali round. If Balala wins the KAGC series, Kenya Golf Union will be at liberty to pick a wild card to fill the automatic Magical Kenya slot reserved for the series winner.
After starting the season strongly with three consecutive wins at Sigona, Nyeri and Limuru, Karanga has endured a dry spell in recent times managing only a single win at the Kericho Tea fields tournament. In fact, he has been overshadowed Balala and Lejirma as his quest has been running out of steam. He will have to produce his best golf this week to beat Balala who will be playing on his home course.
Balala started the season slowly but picked momentum after six events with back-to-back wins at Kabete Open and Trans Nzoia Championship. Another win at Winston Churchill followed by victory at the Kenya Amateur Strokeplay championship put Balala firmly in the driver’s seat. Since winning the Coast Open, to open a healthy lead at the summit, Balala has even had the luxury of missing several events at the series tail-end either on a break or on assignment in South Africa. He is no doubt the player to watch at Nyali.
Lejirma enters the final game in good form after winning the Uhuru Shield at Royal Nairobi Golf Club last week. Though he has fallen short in his quest to win the KAGC series, Lejirma will be chasing a fourth win this season. He has consistently featured in the top three all-season and finished second to Balala at the Coast Open and Trans Nzoia Championship.
This year, the KAGC calendar has featured 21 events across the country. The final ranking is determined from points accumulated in a player’s best 10 rounds during the calendar year.
A Balala 694
M Karanga 668
J Lejirma 575
D Maara 410
N Koech 262
E Omollo 261
P Rimui 202
J Gathumbi 178
E Barno 150
J Sandhu 143