Golfers gear up for Kenya Open Championship

The Kenya Open 2018 Golf Championship is set for 22-25 March at the Muthaiga Golf Club, Nairobi, with 156 golfers participating.

The main event will feature high-ranking golfers from outside the African continent, Barclays Bank Kenya Managing Director, Jeremy Awori, said at the launch of the event in Nairobi.

It will be preceded by the Kenya Open Golf Limited and Barclays Bank of Kenya Pro-Am events on 20-21 March at the same venue.

The 156 golfers, including 22 Kenyan professionals, six Kenyan amateurs and over 100 European Challenge Tour players are expected at the event.

The event marks the 50th anniversary celebrations of the event with a ceremonial ‘tee off’ from the roof top of the KICC, one the tallest buildings in Nairobi.

This year’s event will also see the inaugural ‘winner’s jacket’ handed over in the style of the famous Master’s Green Jacket at Augusta. This jacket will be designed by locals.

The championship is currently the second oldest event under the PGA European Challenge Tour.

The Kenya Open title has been won by some of Europe’s biggest Ryder Cup stars such as Seve Ballesteros, Ian Woosnam, Ken Brown and Christy O’Connor Jr.

Others are Masters Champion Trevor Immelman. The most successful player is England’s Maurice Bembridge, who recorded three victories between 1968 and 1979.

On its part, Barclays Bank, one of the oldest banks in the country, has sponsored the event to the tune of US$ 820,000 this year, comprising US$ 500,000 million for Barclays Kenya Open sponsorship and US$ 320.000 that will go towards a six-tournament series which will feature amateur players and junior golfers.

The total prize kitty for this year has increased by 127% to US$ 625,000, up from US$ 275,000 last year; making the Barclays Kenya Open the richest tournament in the European Challenge Tour.

Participation of local players is expected to increase, while a higher caliber of players from across the globe will be attracted.

The Series, which was launched in Eldoret last year, will feature the Nairobi Open at the Karen Golf Club on 2 February, followed by the Nakuru Open at the Nakuru Golf Club on Saturday, 10 February.