PGA coaches give local pros boost for 2017 Kenya Open


Richard Ainley follows his tee shot during the Barclays Kenya Open Coca-Cola Pro Am tournament ...
Richard Ainley follows his tee shot during the Barclays Kenya Open Coca-Cola Pro Am tournament at the Karen Country club on March 15, 2016. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com

Local professional will benefit from training by American Professional Golfers Association (PGA) coaches who are preparing them to compete against the best foreign talent at the 2017 Barclays Kenya Open.

The event that is part of the European Challenge Tour that has been moved from Karen Country Club to Muthaiga Golf Club was launched on Wednesday in Nairobi as the country continues its search for a first domestic winner since it was established in 1967.

Kenyan pro Kopan Timbe said the coaches who arrived in the country on Monday will help local golfers acquire necessary skills to challenge the field when the tournament tees on March 23 through to March 26 next year.

The coaches led by former UK golfer Paul Carrigill are holding a four-day training camp with 22 pros who will represent Kenya at the Open in Muthaiga where the signature golf event will be held after a five-year stay at Karen.

Speaking to Citizen Digital during the launch at Muthaiga, Timbe thanked the Kenya Golf Union (KGU) saying the training will help local golfers prepare well in handling the pressure as he called for more build-up tournaments to be organised to give them much needed field practise.

“The exposure is very good, we are grateful and what the federation has done to bring the UK coaches to come and train us on how to handle pressure and course management. These are the main things that we lack as the Kenyan team” Timbe underscored.

“The training will help us much because we lack tournaments. They have given us the idea and mental strength to handle pressure and to play safe but we could appreciate if we got two to three tournaments,” the Muthaiga based golfer who is ranked 1872 in the world added.

Having played at Muthaiga in 1982, Carrigill said the main purpose of their visit was to arm Kenyan pros with the ammunition required to challenge for victory at their Challenge Tour showpiece.

“We are teaching the finer points of getting around the course and hopefully we shall have them in the Barclays Kenya Open. By training the professionals, local amateurs will come behind them and maybe in future we can hold group training for them,” Carrigill emphasised.

“Kenya needs to get more competitions and have the desire to win. Increasing the prize money maybe is better but they need to have the desire to win for them to move forward,” he added.

The closest Kenya came to produce a local Open champion was in 1998 when Jacob Okello lost the title on play off to Argentine Ricardo Gonzalez at Muthaiga.

Sponsors Barclays Bank of Kenya announced a deal of Ksh50 million after extending their partnership with Kenya Open Golf Limited.

The cash will be used in the building the profile of the tournament and improving the fans experience at Muthaiga.

The tournament made its debut in 1967 at Muthaiga Golf club and it returns to the grounds once again next year with a record crowd of over 10,000 spectators expected.

“We are glad to extend our deal with the Kenya Open Golf Limited in ensuring that we support golf in Kenya,” Barclays official Jeremy Awori said.

“We are esteemed to increase the attendance in the next year tournament because of improved factors like the accessibility to the venue is easy,” he added.

The event in its 49th edition will attract 156 golfers are with 26 Kenyans participating (22 pros and 4 amateurs) where the winner will pocked 32,000 Euros (Ksh 3,475,286.80).

-Report by Richard Obaga

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