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Why cancelling 2020 Magical Kenya Open is understandable

Last updated 1 month ago | By Vincent Wang'ombe

Stuart Manley from Wales lines a putt during the Magical Kenya Open golf tournament day one at the Karen Country Club in Nairobi on March 14, 2019. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

I was driving recently with my ten-year-old son when the song ‘September’ by the band Earth, Wind and Fire played. My son read out loud the name of the band as it appeared on the screen of the car radio. I added the volume and joined the lead singer in singing the first few lines of the song when my son asked

“Why didn’t they have ‘water’ in their name?”

“What do you mean son?” I asked.

“Earth, wind and fire are part of the elements. They left out water.”

In all the years that I have listened to the band, it had never occurred to me that they had missed out one of the classical elements. As I looked at the road, I could tell that my son was looking at me expecting an answer.

“It probably was because they wanted to remain hot” I answered in jest.

It was for the same reason that the European Tour and Kenya Open Golf Limited yesterday announced the cancellation of the 2020 Magical Kenya Open; there was going to be one or two elements missing to make the event great. The Magical Kenya Open that was scheduled to take place from the November 12-15 at the Karen Country Club, will now return to the traditional dates of March in 2021.

In this time of pandemic, the professional golfers are not travelling much. In the last few weeks, we have seen that the players like Rory McIlroy from Northern Ireland and Tommy Fleetwood from England, who are members of the European Tour, chose to play on the US PGA events and didn’t return for the events in their home country.

Karen Country Club Golf course on March 03, 2020. [Photo: Stafford Ondego, Standard]

The world number two golfer Jon Rahm, last week skipped the Estrella Damm Andalucia Masters which was played in his home country, Spain; a tournament where he came second last year. He is currently in top form and he would probably have travelled back home to try and win it but he chose to remain in United States where he has been since the return of golf tournaments.

The professional golfers have not been travelling much and it is understandable since airports and long-distance travel in a confined aircraft is a daunting task in this time of a deadly airborne virus. After the cancellation of the Nedbank Golf Challenge that was scheduled to take place in South Africa, two weeks after the Magical Kenya Open, it may have looked like the Kenyan event was standing out like a sore thumb in Africa and Middle East region.

In its traditional dates in March, the Magical Kenya Open is usually clustered with tournaments such as the Oman Open and the Qatar Masters. Without other tournaments nearby, it was probably going to be difficult to attract a strong field. Without a strong field, it was going to be difficult to entice TV viewers from all over the world to follow. At a time when many people are hesitant to travel, there was going to be a missing element if the Magical Kenya Open would have been staged in November.

As the global apprehension of the COVID-19 pandemic wanes, our March date for the Magical Kenya Open will definitely be a much better time to hold the event. It will be a time to look back and, in the words of Earth, Wind and Fire, “while chasing the clouds away”. 

- Wang’ombe ([email protected]) is the General Manager of Kenya Open Golf Limited and Chief Executive Officer of Kenya Golf Union.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Kenya Open Golf Limited or the Kenya Golf Union.

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