Kenya Open: Riz Charania targets the cut at Karen
Riz Charania shoot from the bunker during the Safari Tour Golf Series 4th leg at Sigona Golf Club on Tuesday 27/10/2020 [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

Windsor-based golfer hopes to bring his 16-year experience and strategy to bear at the Kenya Open.

Windsor golfer Rizwan Charania has never missed any edition of Magical Kenya Open since his first qualification in 2005.

His best ever performance was an overall 55th place finish in 2017, but he hopes to rewrite a new Kenya Open chapter.

“This time round I want to do things differently, I’m out to improve that result,” he told Standard Sports.

First, Charania will utilise his 16 years of experience to search for the cut in the tournament slated for Karen Golf and Country Club in Nairobi on March 18-21.

This was after the 13 pros to represent the country at the event were promised Sh50, 000 each by Kenya Vision 2030 if they make the cut.

“We will also award top local finisher at the tournament with Sh250,000, second finisher with Sh200,000 and third-placed player with Sh150,000,” Vision 2030 Director General Kenneth Mwige assured last week.

Charania, 37, has tipped five players from the Kenyan team to make the elusive cut at the Open.

The Windsor-based golfer has made the cut twice at the Open. The rare feats were achieved in the 2017 and 2018 editions.

He strongly believes he has gathered a lot of experience that should propel him to the third day of the tournament in the coming fixtures.

Even though he started visiting the Karen greens last week to familiarise himself with the course, he insists he doesn’t feel pressured at all ahead of the big day.

“I have participated in this competition for over a decade now, I know all corners of Karen.

“ To me, the venue, the stage, the weather will all be the same.

“Nothing like big stage fright for me since I play at the location almost every other day.

“The only thing we local golfers need to change is just our mind set,” he said.

Secondly, apart from capitalising on experience, Charania will try to apply strategies he is currently perfecting on the course ahead of the championship.

“I have been working on my swings over the last one year.

“I have also cultivated confidence that should push me through to the final. My hope is to become the first Kenyan to win this elusive trophy,” he said.

Away from the pitch, Charania is a proud owner of the prestigious Professional Golfers Associaton certificate, a course he did for two years while living in the United Kingdom.

“The high level training to attain the certification has helped me to be a good golf manager,” he said.

Recently, the Kenya Open Golf Limited stated that this year’s Kenya Open will adhere strictly to the Covid-19 protocols and Charania feels this will have a toll on players who rely on fans to boost their morale on the pitch.

“Lack of spectators at the venue will affect many. The good thing is that I don’t need any support to perfect my swings and shots on the course, so either way it will be a plus for me,” he said.

According to Charania, the nine legged Safari Tour which local players took part in has sharpened the golfers for the Open.

He said the local professionals scores have improved tremendously over the last two years which Safari Tour series has picked up.

“The circuit prepared us well for the Open. I believe the effort will be replicated in the championship. This is our chance to perform wonders in the global showpiece,” he said.

Charania is also happy that Safari Tour is already helping players to eke out a living by creating careers out of golf.

“Unlike before, it was not easy to live off the game because the tournaments were very few, but the series has kept the players busy all round with the lucrative legs.”

Nonetheless, Charania still advises local professionals to try and diversify their sources of income.

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