The big tee off

By Robin Toskin: Wednesday, March 13th 2019 at 02:00 GMT +3 | Golf
Nelson Simwa. [Stafford Ondego/]

It promises to be a rendezvous like no other to have lit up Karen Country Club’s sparkling manicured golf course. The serene greens, the fairways, bunkers bear immaculate look befitting a battery of top golfers ready to square it off in a game billed as one of the gentlemen and equally watched by fans of noble behaviour.

The party is the 2019 Magical Kenya Open presented by Absa, which tees off today with a tournament of Professional and Amateur exponents of the game before battle royale begins tomorrow.

Backed up by huge press and broadcast operations never seen before in a golf tournament in Kenya, the championship will see Kenya’s premier media house, Standard Group PLC lead the coverage comprising 120 crew working behind the scenes. The production by European Tour will be shared with top media channels such as Sky Sports, Golf Channel and Supersport for airing live.

Standard Group PLC CEO Mr. Orlando Lyomu set the tone for what is expected to be a spectacular golf bonanza.

“It is really exciting that Kenya is hosting a European Tour golf tournament. It is no mean achievement. And so, it is important that we come together and make this championship it is a resounding success.

“As a media partner, we understand how important it is for the heritage of this country and terms of the role sport plays in our country that is why as a media partner are happy to play our role writing the tournament’s history,” Mr. Lyomu said yesterday.

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The Kenya Open, first played in 1967 has grown in leaps and bounds to attain the prestigious PGA European Tour.

As a result, a host of European Tour winners from around the world led by Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn have docked Karen Country Club to scrap for a share of Sh120 million in prize money.

Bjørn, former Ryder Cup Captain and 15-time European Tour winner will be in good company alongside rising stars Shubhankar Sharma and Renato Paratore.

South Korea internet sensation Ho-sung Choi will also be on show at Karen Country Club.

Also in the field are three of the last four winners of the Magical Kenya Open, most notably South Africa’s Haydn Porteous who has gone on to triumph twice on the European Tour since winning the title in Nairobi four years ago, when it was a European Challenge Tour event.

The historic event is a culmination of an impressive organization by the Kenya Open Golf Limited backed by among others Barclays Bank of Kenya, which is soon transitioning to Absa among others.

Having formed part of the Challenge Tour’s International Schedule since 1991, the Magical Kenya Open has helped launch careers of several stars besides playing host to some of the game’s greatest players, with Major Champions Seve Ballesteros, Ian Woosnam and Trevor Immelman having all triumphed on Kenyan soil.