South African bags Sh20m in four days
Justin Harding fom South Africa celebrates with the trophy he won at the end of the Magical Kenya Open Tournament at the Karen Country Club on March 21, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

South Africa’s Justin Harding is the winner of the 52nd edition of Magical Kenya Open that ended at Karen Golf and Country Club in Nairobi on Sunday.

The 35-year-old shook off strong opposition from Kitayama Kurt of USA to fire five under par 66 for a total four rounds of 21 under par 263.

At the same time, Kenya’s Samuel Njoroge (72,68,74,70) finished 77th overall after ending the championship on level par after the four rounds.

“I had a worthy opponent. Kurt gave me a run for my money. He kept me on my toes until the last hole,” Harding said.

Harding had an eagle in the par-4 hole 9. He then boosted the score with two birdies in the front nine (hole 6 and 7) and another birdie in the 17th hole at the back nine.

“My girlfriend and my mother are the motivation behind this victory,” he said.

Harding was presented the trophy by President Uhuru Kenyatta. As a result of his victory, he was awarded the Sh20 million prize money.

South African bags Sh20m in four days
President Uhuru Kenyatta awards the Magical Kenya Open 2021 winner Justin Harding after the conclusion of the Tournament at the Karen Country Club in Nairobi on March 21, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

This is the second European Tour title that Harding is winning in his golfing career after he claimed a maiden victory at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in 2019.

“The Karen golf course lends itself to a bunch of birdies. If you execute your golf shots and roll in a couple of putts, you can certainly post a score. It’s just a matter of really taking advantage of the par fives and a couple of par fours and at the end of the day, just being one shot better than the next guy.”

Kurt (67,66,66, 66) felt disappointed for failing to cover the two point margin that was opened by his opponent ahead of the final showdown.

Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, who visited the venue, were pleased with the number of international players that have turned up for the two European events, including Kenya Savannah Classic that starts tomorrow at the venue.

“This is a testimony that protocols put in place by the government for the continuation of Sports after Covid-19, are working,” said Amina.

“I can assure you that the protocols are working because of the large number of players from 30 countries. The countries have entrusted their golfers to come to Kenya, which shows there’s is now total belief that Sports Tourism is open in the country.”

South African bags Sh20m in four days
President Uhuru Kenyatta chat with Tourism CS Najib Balala (Centre) and his Sports counterpart Amina Mohamed (Left) after the conclusion of the Magical Kenya Open 2021 Tournament at the Karen Country Club in Nairobi on March 21, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Amina assured that all big sporting events that have been lined up by the state will be held.

On his part, Balala added that the events provide better opportunity to showcase Kenya to the outside world and assured everyone that Kenya is a safe place to be for Sports Tourism.

Meanwhile, all players at the Kenya Open re-entered the bubble where they were issued with new accreditation for the Kenya Savannah Classic that tees off at the venue tomorrow.

Kenya Open Golf Limited (KOGL) chairman Peter Kanyago praised the course saying it’s in perfect condition ahead of the Savannah Classic.

“I want to thank the government for supporting local pros through the Safari Tour series ahead of the European Tour events,” said Kanyago.

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