Nigerian Andrew Odoh in battle of his life for Magical Kenya Open slot
GOLF By Mose Sammy | February 22nd 2021
Battle royale for a share of the final slots to 2021 Magical Kenya Open got underway yesterday at the par 72 Karen Country Club course, the venue of the ninth and final Safari Tour series.
Nigerian Andrew Odoh shot five-under 66 after the first round to claim the overnight leader board top spot a stroke ahead of Zimbabwean Robson Chinhoi at four-under par-67.
With a total of twelve out of the starting field 73 professionals returning impressive underscores after round one the fight of the 15 slots up for grabs at the Magical Kenya Open and the newly introduced Kenya Savannah Classic the stage is set for an almighty scrap.
Odoh will be going for an outright win at Karen to enhance his chances of being declared the season champion.
The Nigerian has missed six out of the nine Safari Tour events played to date and will be seeking to pull a fast one on the rest of the foreign players for one of the three slots for non- Kenyan players.
All he needs is a top-10 finish to be assured of one of the three slots after exhibiting good form at both the Nyali and Muthaiga outings.
“It’s my irons which did the work for me today as I only made six fairways, one of the reasons why I am at the range right now to try and get it right,’’ said Odoh.
Zimbabwe’s Chinhoi, who has so far won three events in the Safari Tour including the Uganda Open, played a low 31 at the front nine where he made birdies on the first, seventh, eighth and at the ninth. He, however, made a six at the par-five-11th but quickly recovered at the 12th for a fine 67 which gives him a great chance for a fourth title in the 2020/2021 Safari Tour series.
“My game is definitely good at the moment and gives me a great chance not just making the cut for the Open, but win the tournament altogether,’’ said Chinhoi who has been camping in Kenya since the season started.
Despite participating in all the previous events, Uganda’s Philip Kasozi enjoys a slim lead ahead of the other save for Chinhoi, who is assured of one of the three slots ahead of Rwandan Abbey Nsabimana and Abbey Bagalana.
Professional Golfers of Kenya (PGK) skipper CJ Wangai finished T3 alongside Victor Mpwanya and eighth leg winner Dismus Indiza at three-under 68.
Having missed six events, Odoh will also be pushing his lack at Karen. The Nigerian had a good outing at Nyali and Muthaiga and may just sneak through if he registers a top 10 finish at Karen.
So far, Greg Snow with 322.2 points, Dismas Indiza on 309.5, Simon Ngige who has scored 268.9 points, David Wakhu (260), Eric Ooko (225.2) and Samuel Njoroge on 191. 4 points are so far the only ones assured of slots reserved for local players.
Others with chances to battle for the remaining slots include; Justus Madoya, Edwin Mudanyi, Mathew Omondi, Jacob Okello, Mohit Mediratta and Mathew Wahome who is currently placed 13th. The top 12-placed players after the Karen event will earn their places in the Magical Kenya Open as well as the new event, the Kenya Savannah Classic.
After the first round, the amateurs, as well as the pro, must make the cut after the first and second rounds to in order for them to proceed into the third and fourths.