Home pro Simon Ngige is among 32 professionals lined up for the third round of the KCB Road To Karen Masters at the par72 Thika Sports Club course on Friday and Saturday.
Ngige, the best placed local at the 2019 Magical Kenya Open, hopes to master his home course in an event being used as a yardstick to select the Kenya team for the KCB Karen Masters 2019.
The Thika professional will renew his rivalry with leading players among them Muthaiga’s Greg Snow, CJ Wangai of Sigona, Golf Park’s Jacob Okello, Rizwan Charania of Windsor and Mumias long-hitter Dismas Indiza,
Ngige is back from Zambia after partaking Sunshine Tour’s Zanaco Masters where he failed to make a cut with a total of 3 under from rounds of 75 and 74.
After skipping the Nyali leg, Ngige will be making his first appearance on the KCB Bank sponsored series which will also be his first event on home soil after the Kenya Open.
“It’s such a great feeling to be back for local action. I’m looking forward to a good run in the 36- hole competition after the Sunshine Tour in Zambia. We are glad that KCB Bank is offering us a platform to play competitive golf in the run to the Sunshine Tour Karen Masters,” Ngige said. Apart from Ngige, Thika will be showcasing three more professionals namely Sullivan Muthugia, John Komo and Sam Kamau.
Top amateurs signed up for Saturday’s Pro-Am include Duncan Ndungu (handicap 5), Daivid Matano (handicap 5), David Karuma and Martin Gachoka.
Thika’s pro Sullivan Muthugia remarked: “I want to win this tournament because I’m familiar with our home course. I know where to miss and where to place my ball. Lastly, I wish to thank my mentor Hon Jamleck Kamau, Brinks Security, Steve Mwangi and Sate Pure Mineral Water for supporting me.”
Ngige’s terrific birdie chip off the edge of the 18th green saw him wrap up his 2019 Kenya Open campaign with a round of 69 for a tournament total of 5-under 279 to see him finish joint 25th.
The ‘Road to The Masters’ teed off with an with amateur tournament at Sigona on February 25. On March 30, action moved to Muslims where CJ Wangai emerged victorious. Nakuru will host the penultimate leg on May 11 with the final qualifier set for June 15 at Royal.
Each of the 5 Legs will also be used as amateur qualification rounds for the Karen Masters Pro-Am where 6 winners will be selected from each leg. This means 30 amateurs will qualify at club level to play in the Karen Masters Pro-Am.
The Prize money for the pros will be a 60/40 split for each leg. The 60% will be prize money for the top 15 finishers and 40% will be set aside as a bonus amount for those who meet the set scores for the different courses.
Professional Golfers of Kenya (PGK) Captain CJ Wangai said the tee off on Friday is from 11.30am onwards while Saturday tee off is at 6.30am.
KCB Group Director of Marketing and Communications, Angela Mwirigi said: “We are redefining golfing in Kenya by increasingly giving more opportunities to amateur and professional golfers across the country. We believe in growing sports talent for local and international competitions. It’s our way of using golf to promote sports tourism and as a result catalyzing Kenya’s economic growth agenda.”
The Bank has set aside Sh2 million as prize money for the local pros in four events. Pros will compete for a prize fund of KSh500,000 per round.
Karen Masters, a round of the Sunshine Tour, will be held at the Par 71 Karen Country Club on June 25-30.