Muthaiga junior golfer Mutahi Kibugu whose caddie tested positive for coronavirus ahead of this year’s Magical Kenya Open will get moral support from the Kenya Golf Union (KGU) and the Junior Golf Foundation (JGF).
Kibugu was forced to exit the tournament on Wednesday over his caddie’s test results.
He was replaced by Nyali golfer Adel Balala who linked up with the Kenyan team at Karen on Thursday morning without adequate preparation.
“We know the young man (Kibugu) is devastated for missing the European Tour event. Kenya Golf Union (KGU) and the Junior Golf Foundation will reach out to him to help him recover mentally from the disappointment,” Tournament Director Patrick Obath said.
Balala and Michael Karanga of Ndumberi were the reserve juniors who were set to replace two bottom-placed amateurs at the ongoing Kenya Open and in the Kenya Savannah Classic to be held at Karen starting Tuesday.
Obath says it is now the KGU to decide if Balala will remain in the squad or will be replaced after his not-so-good show at the Open.
Balala fired ten over par 81 and four over par 75 for total two rounds of 14 over par 156 to finish second last in round two among the 156 players in contention.
“It’s the KGU to decide if Balala will be considered alongside Karanga for Savannah Classic,” Obath said.
“The two players (Balala and Karanga) have shown exceptional performance in the entire season, we don’t want their efforts to go in vain,” Kenya Open Golf Limited General Manager, Vincent Wangombe stated when the players were chosen last week as junior reserves for Savannah Classic.
Balala was outstanding in the nine-legged 2020/21 Safari Tour series that was concluded in Karen last month while Karanga is the current leader of the ongoing Kenya Amateur Golf Championship circuit, having won the Sigona Bowl and the Mt Kenya Challenge.
Six amateur players booked slots for Kenya Open this year and they include Limuru’s Paul Muchangi (2019 Kenya Amateur Matchplay winner), Victor Joseph of Dar es Salaam (2019 Kenya Amateur Stroke play winner) and Vet Lab’s Isaac Makokha (2020 Matchplay champion).
Others are Royal’s Jay Sandhu (2020 Stroke play champion), Kibugu and Taimur Malik who are currently the overall two top ranked juniors in the country.
“Including Balala and Karanga in the mix for the next tournament was to help stiffen the competition, it was to
push the players to work hard in the Open since none wants to be axed from the team,” said Wang’ombe.
Muthaiga amateur, Malik was the surprise package in the opening day of the Kenya Open when he led Kenyan team on two under par 69.
No amateur made the cut for round three on Friday.
Most Kenyans will however be hoping for a good outing at the Savannah Classic after a poor show at the Kenya Open which saw only Samuel Njoroge making the cut.
At the same time, Obath has aid that the pin positions in Karen will change ahead of the Savannah Classic.