Why Bhavi Shah is determined to fly Kenyan flag at Magical Kenya Ladies Open

Kenyan golfer Bhavi Shah in action. [Courtesy]

The return of the Ladies European Tour’s (LET) 2022 season opener, the Magical Kenya Ladies Open tournament after a two year hiatus owing to the COVID-19 pandemic is finally here.

Unlike in 2019 when no one had an idea of anything like a pandemic, the 2022 tournament is happening at the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic in light of the fact that we are still not out of the woods.

At the same time, the impact that the pandemic has had on sports will definitely have an effect to some of the golfers like Bhavi Shah who is the only pro golfer in Kenya featuring at the international event.

This year’s tournament is open to fans following consultations with both the Kenyan government and the LET, under which the competition is organised.

Shah, whose club is Nyali Golf in Mombasa is among other 95 professional golfers who will be battling to claim the top prize money of Sh38.8 million.

The event, sponsored by Johnnie Walker Kenya, Safaricom, Huawei Kenya, Magical Kenya, Centum PLC and Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage will be broadcasted to millions across the globe on live TV for all to watch. The ladies start the event with a Pro-Am, before the four-day action begins proper tomorrow (Feb 10-13).

Better preparations

Shah will take on some notable golfers including Esther Henseleit from Germany who won the maiden Magical Kenya Ladies Open in 2019.  The Kitale-born pro golfer says despite the challenges brought by the pandemic, she ready to improve on her 2019 performance.

“In 2019, the first round was good at 78 points and the only thing I wanted to get was the cut. Regrettably, this made me nervous in the second day and I lost it. However, I have worked on this tournament for the entire period and I am in good form,” said Shah.

Shah revealed that physically, she has had a gym trainer based in the United Kingdom and together, they have been working out virtually as part of the preparations.

“I can say that I am now 60 percent stronger than I was in 2019. I have spent a lot of time to work on the range. I aim to make the cut on the first two days so that I climb the ladder to battle for the top spot,” she said.

An international affair in Kenya

Shah indicates that her colleagues have trained well and that she expects good performance which will raise the Kenyan flag high.

“I know my colleagues have been playing hard and this time we are stronger as a team. We are ready for the challenge and our aim as team Kenya is to meet the cut points,” she said.

She will be joined on round one tee-off by Kenyan quartet of Naomi Wafula, Mercy Nyanchama, Chanelle Wangari, and Faith Chemutai.

Presence of fans

She feels that fans presence during the tournament is a huge advantage for her and her colleagues. Earlier this year, the Kenyan Government and the Ladies European Tour – under which the Magical Kenya Ladies Open is organised allowed fans and golf enthusiasts to attend the tournament at Vipingo Ridge under conditions that all of them must be fully vaccinated.

The event organisers – UCOM and Vipingo Ridge have also noted that all the COVID-19 protocols that govern public events in Kenya will be strictly applied for the safety and health of fans and players.

Weather conditions

The climate at the Coastal course of Vipingo is warm and dry at the moment. Shah believes the conditions will favour her.

“The weather is okay and the course is playing well. The greens and the fairways are well kept despite the lack of rains. With this in place, we look forward for the best,” said Shah.

In 2019, Shavi ended her maiden Ladies European Tour (LET) campaign tied in 98th and will be looking for an improved performance this year. 

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