Gagli wins Kenya Open as Uhuru announces Euro Tour plans


Lorenzo Gagli from Italy celebrates winning the Barclays Kenya Open championship 2018 at Muthaiga Golf club ...
Lorenzo Gagli from Italy celebrates winning the Barclays Kenya Open championship 2018 at Muthaiga Golf club on March 24, 2018. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com

In Summary

  • Italian Lorenzo Gagli wins 2018 Barclays Kenya Open, taking home Sh10m after three play-offs with runners up Swede Fahrbring Jens at Muthaiga Golf Club
  • The Kenya Open marked the first tournament of the new season on the Challenge Tour with China set to be next stop when the Belt & Road Colorful Open goes down on 12 April

Kenyans Riz Charania and Mohit Mediratta had a woeful round four of the 2018 Barclays Kenya Open, capping the finale at T two 69 and 71 respectively, as Italian Lorenzo Gagli won the overall prize in a sudden death decider at the Nairobi’s Muthaiga Golf Club on Sunday.

The final day of the landmark 50th edition challenge, graced by President Uhuru Kenyatta, had an exciting finish with rapid exchanges at the top of the leaderboard in the afternoon, but it was the Italian and Jens Fahrbring who would square it out in three playoffs to settle the winner.

Kenyatta revealed an increase in the Open sponsorship from one million Euros to 2.2 million Euros, set to usher the country into the famous European Tour.

“I discussed with Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala and the plan to lift the Kenya Open to the European Tour was supposed to take us five years. We now commit ourselves towards being in the Tour in the next one year,” said the Head of State.

Once realized, Kenya will host the finest golfers from across the globe, those who skip the local open on grounds of standards and prize money.

From course face-lift and general organization, standards will demand almost an overhaul of the image to fit in the Tour.

The President was franked by among others, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Nairobi Governor Mike ‘Sonko’ Mbuvi, Senator Johnson Sakaja and Balala.

Smooth run

As German Philipp Mejow played his last shot at the 18th hole trying to catch up with the two at 11- under par, pressure was evident among the top contenders with crowds of people without an exact person to cheer around the green spicing up the finale.

Italian Lorenzo Gagli addresses the media at the Muthaiga Golf Club after winning the 2018 Kenya Open. (PHOTO/Robin Njogu)

Mejow finished at 10 – under par, and, with chuff clearly separated from wheat, Lorenzo and Fahrbring the Swede had to be sent to hole 13 for the decider.

Finally, Lorenzo smiled last, his closest challenger hugging him after that chip in which announced him the winner of the historic half century edition.

In the run to the peak of the Open, Lorenzo birdied four times, two in each turn, at the second and fourth before nailing the rest at the 10th and 18th. However, his smooth run was almost dented by a bogey in the 14th, the rest of the shots bearing levels.

“I feel excited, this is phenomenal. At a stage I felt as if I’m losing it but I had to be calm. It was quite a demanding time going into the playoffs but the winner had to be,” offered Lorenzo.

Fahrbring on his card had five birdies, from the first, sixth,10 th,14th, eighth holes, and a bogey at the fourth.

The two, had shrugged off competition from the 2016 edition winner at the Nairobi’s Karen Club Sebastian Soderberg, who led for the better part of the day only to lose momentum in the back nine with an awful double bogey at the 14 th, and further four bogeys across the round against three birdies.

The double bogey did all the damage, eventually wrapping his day at 9- under par, four places below Lorenzo.

Kenyan hope

From Left; Tourism PS Najib Balala, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga follow golfers on the course during the Barclays Kenya Open Golf championship at Muthaiga Golf club on March 25, 2018. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com

Charania and Mediratta, who were shouldering Kenya’s hope going into the finale, started under chilly conditions in the morning, the former birding in holes three and nine, but spoiling the flavor with three bogeys at the first, second and eighth.  Upon making the turn, he managed six level pars and two more bogeys at the 14th and 18th, hence his three over par 74.

Just below him on the pecking order finished Medirrata of Sigona Club, whose two birdies at the fourth and the 18th could not suffice to lift him to at least the best 60 golfers. He dropped balls at the 12th, 13th, 14th, 16th and the eighth, to conclude his day at 3 over par.

Albeit finishing quite a distance lower than he expected, Mediratta had a reason to pride comparing the exposure of the locals against the visitors.

Mohit Mediratta from Kenya follows his tee during the Barclays Kenya Open Golf championship at Muthaiga Golf club on March 23, 2018. Photo/Oliver Ananda/Sportpicha

“We must acknowledge the local golfers, they gave over 100 percent to make notable strides here. Look, we only have inter-clubs tournaments that cannot give the shape you need to compete at this level with the foreigners, who are always playing at very high level competitions before coming here.

‘’For example, we will have to wait until past mid-year to play in the Karen Masters, then the next major thing will be next year. These are things sponsors and organizers need to look at if we are to march a step ahead,” Mediratta said.

1 GAGLI Lorenzo ITA -11 68 68 69 68 273 80,000 € 80,000
2 FAHRBRING Jens SWE -11 72 70 64 67 273 55,000 € 55,000
3 GEYGER Nico CHI -10 69 68 68 69 274 30,000 € 30,000
3 MEJOW Philipp GER -10 67 72 64 71 274 30,000 € 30,000
3 SAMOOJA Kalle FIN -10 71 70 65 68 274 30,000 € 30,000
6 BEKKER Oliver RSA -9 74 69 63 69 275 18,000 € 18,000
6 SODERBERG Sebastian SWE -9 70 65 66 74 275 18,000 € 18,000
8 CANTER Laurie ENG -8 69 68 70 69 276 10,917 € 10,917
8 FISHER JNR Trevor RSA -8 70 71 66 69 276 10,917 € 10,917
8 KARLSSON Anton SWE -8 67 69 72 68 276 10,917 € 10,917
8 ORRIN Max ENG -8 65 71 69 71 276 10,917 € 10,917
8 RIU Victor FRA -8 68 70 73 65 276 10,917 € 10,917
8 SCHWAB Matthias AUT -8 76 66 65 69 276 10,917 € 10,917
14 EVANS Ben ENG -7 69 67 70 71 277 7,750 € 7,750
14 JOHANNESSEN Kristian Krogh NOR -7 67 67 72 71 277 7,750 € 7,750
14 KOIVU Kim FIN -7 70 69 69 69 277 7,750 € 7,750
14 McGOWAN Ross ENG -7 76 67 69 65 277 7,750 € 7,750

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Story By Jacob Icia
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