The 52nd edition of Magical Kenya Open tees off at the par 71 Karen Golf and Country Club in Nairobi today with 156 players on board.
Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort hard hitter Jastas Madoya and Proffesional Golfers of Kenya captain C.J Wangai form the first batch that will open the contest at 7.10am Kenyan time.
The duo is paired alongside German Maximilian Kieffer, who is fresh from the Qatar Maters where he finished 50th overall on Sunday.
“I have worked on everything needed by any golfer to succeed on the pitch. I’m confident of a top 20 finish,” Madoya said.
The father of two, together with Thika Sports Club’s finest Simon Ngige, were the only Kenyans who made the cut in the last edition held at the same venue in 2019.
Madoya is confident of making it to round three of the tournament following his victory at his base in the sixth leg of the 2020/21 Safari Tour series which he used as a preparation towards the championship.
It will be the seventh time (three as an amateur) that the lanky 34-year old will be making an attempt for glory in the global showpiece that has a Euro 1 million (Sh130m) purse.
Wangai who has never missed the tournament since 2012 is optimistic about making the cut even though he has never landed on the money bracket in all his attempts.
Latest inclusion in the Kenyan squad, Toni Omuli of Golf Park is in the contingent that will follow in the tee-off order at 7.20am.
He is paired with Richard Mansell of England and Justin Walters of South Africa.
Mansell’s last international stint was at the Portugal Open last September where he finished 35th overall. Walters also bagged a similar position at the Qatar Masters last weekend.
“I missed the cut by a shot in 2018. It was the most painful moment of my life. “I’m here to right the wrongs of that day,” Omuli stated.
It is the fifth time that the 37-year-old will be competing at the event that gained European status two years ago.
Omuli took part in the Open as an amateur in 2014 and 2015 and as a pro in 2018 and 2019.
The trio of Isaac Makokha (amateur), Adrien Saddier (France) and Jorge Campillo (Spain) will follow Omuli’s batch 20 minutes later.
Makokha will be making history as the only deaf golfer to ever grace the Open.
Jacob Okello of Golf Park who is scheduled to tee off at 7.50am will be revisiting his sweet memories 23 years ago when he stormed the final at Muthaiga, losing to Ricardo Gonzalez in the sudden death play-off.
“I came close to lifting the trophy in 1998, may be it’s God’s will for me to bring it home this year,” Okello said.
Muthaiga’s Greg Snow who emerged second best at the just concluded Safari Tour will take on the greens at 8.40am.
“I have been playing lots of golf ahead of the competition. I have done my homework well. I’m promising to play some good golf at the pitch,” Snow said.
The ever-smiling David Wakhu of Golf Park will hit the course at exactly 8.50am and he is confident of replicating his victory in the fourth leg of Safari Tour series at Sigona in the event.
“I’ll just focus on my game and the rest will fall in place,” he said.
Erick Ooko Obura (9:00am) would be pleased to honour his late father with victory in the contest.
“I had a tumultuous season last year. It is just by a miracle that I punched a ticket to the Kenya Open. My game plan is to put more concentration on my swings.
“If your swings are perfect then your game plan will be good,” he explained.
Ngige is out to look for a fifth cut in his tenth outing in the tournament. He will also be seeking to improve his 24th place finish in the last edition.
It will be the first time that Edwin Mudanyi of Vet Lab and Samuel Njoroge of Railways will be taking part in the event as pros and all are excited to better their records they set as amateurs.
Mumias long hitter Dismas Indiza is already buoyed with his overall win at the Safari Tour series.
The in-form Indiza says he has worked hard on his mental strength to propel him to a good show in Open.
His sentiments have been echoed by Windsor’s Riz Charania who insists he has practised enough and just needs the right mindset to deliver the cup home.
Despite their intentions to win the trophy for Kenya, the 13 local pros will have to battle defending champion Guido Migliozzi of Italy who participated at the Qatar Masters on Sunday where he bagged second position overall.
Migliozzi hopes to convert the good run in Doha in the Karen course where other former champions including Kenyan born and 2017 Kenya Open winner Aaron Rai (United Kingdom), Sebastian Soderberg of Sweden (2016), Haydn Porteous of South Africa (2015) and Lorenzo Gagli of Italy (2018) are waiting to pounce.