Balala, Karanga named for Savannah Classic

GOLF |
Professional Golfer John Wangai takes shots of a giraffe at Nairobi National Park during an early morning game drive organised by Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) where they announced support for the Golf Tournament on March 13, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Nyali Golf Club amateur Adel Balala and Michael Karanga of Ndumberi have been included in the national squad for Savannah Classic scheduled for Karen Golf and Country Club in Nairobi on March 23-26.

Yesterday, Kenya Open Golf Limited (KOGL) announced said the two will replace bottom two finishers in the amateur category at the Magical Kenya Open set for the same venue on March 18-21.

“The two players have shown exceptional performance in the entire season. We don’t want their efforts to go in vain. This is the reason we are considering them for the Savannah Classic, which is another European Tour event,” said Vincent Wangombe, KOGL General Manager.

Balala was outstanding in the nine legged 2020/21 Safari Tour series that was concluded in Karen last month while Karanga is the current leader of the ongoing Kenya Amateur Golf Championship circuit, having won the Sigona Bowl and the Mt Kenya Challenge.

Six amateur players booked slots for Kenya Open this year and they include Limuru’s Paul Muchangi (2019 Kenya Amateur Matchplay winner), Victor Joseph of Dar es Salaam (2019 Kenya Amateur Strokeplay winner) and Vet Lab’s Isaac Makokha (2020 Matchplay champion).

Others are Royal’s Jay Sandhu (2020 Strokeplay champion), Mutahi Kibugu and Taimur Malik who are currently the overall two top ranked juniors in the country.

“Including Balala and Karanga for the next tournament will help raise level of competition. It will push the players to work hard in the contest since none wants to be axed from the team,” said Wangombe.

Wangombe was speaking at the Kenya National Park in Nairobi where the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), through its Magical Kenya brand, took the 13 local professionals who will represent Kenya at the Open for an early morning game drive to unwind from their packed training schedule.

“We want the golfers to experience and know our distinctive destinations in Kenya,” KTB Chief Executive Officer Betty Radier said.

“As a brand, the forthcoming golf events give us opportunity to showcase Kenya to the outside world,” she said.

Radier said a local top pro at the Kenya Open will be showered with an experience of a kind.  “We will award him with a Magical Kenya holiday vacation based on our distinctive signature experience,” she said.

Proffessional Golfers of Kenya captain C.J Wangai said the game drive experience will not be in vain.

“We will go out there to do our best. This is the time for Kenya to win the Open. We are ready for the event. If a local win Kenya Open, our country will get opportunity to take part part in bigger tournaments abroad,” said Wangai.

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