Distraction hardly shows in Francis’ victory: Whistling birds calm Okwaro’s nerves in Karen

SPORTS-GOLF-FRANCIS OKWARA; Francis Okwara makes a swing.{Maarufu Mohamed,Standard]

Veteran golfer remains focused to win Stanbic Bank tournament.

Priding itself as one of the oldest golf clubs in Kenya, the 18-hole Karen course, founded in 1937, is often regarded as a family-oriented club.

It is built on the former coffee estate developed by the Danish pioneer Karen Blixen, whose life and times were depicted in the lyrical film, ‘Out of Africa’.

The Ngong Hills form a backdrop to the serene setting of the course, parts of which are dominated by shady trees from the coffee plantation.

The greens on the par-72 course are built to Professional Golf Association standards. The club has also hosted the prestigious Barclays Kenya Open (a European Challenge Tour tournament) from 2013-2016.

The whistling of thousands of birds and sometimes movement of dik diks around the trees make up some of the beauty and distraction that characterise the course.

But veteran golfer Francis Okwaro set his mind on the course and remained undeterred by the singing birds. Not even the unforgiving cold could steal his focus.

His single-mindedness paid off as he beat a field of 122 golfers to lift the overall title of the 2017 Stanbic Bank-sponsored tournament over the weekend.


Excellent Score

The Royal Club handicap 16 golfer, who moved from Mombasa to Nairobi, posted an excellent countback score of 41 Stableford points to claim the trophy.

Okwaro made a false start on the par-four first hole with a double bogey shot and rounded up with the same shot at the par-five 18th hole.

He played seven bogey shots moments later but recovered with level pars on nine holes in both nines to lead the board.

“Golf is a game of the mind although the pin positions on the day were difficult. I am happy with the victory,” said Okwaro.

He tied on the same score with handicap 28 N. Kuribu, who was the runner-up, while his club mate, handicap 27 Richard Marisin, was third on 38 points.

In Nakuru, Nanu Hassanali won the 2017 DSTV golf tournament on 40 points, while Fr Joseph Ngure, playing off handicap 15, was the runner-up with 37 points.

The Ladies winner was handicap 15 Josephine Wangari on 36 points and the Junior winner was Tevin Kihumba (39 points).

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