Strom tops the leaderboard as Kenyans find the going tough

Sweden's Linnea Strom in action during round one of the 2022 Magical Kenya Ladies Open at the Vipingo Baobab Ridge Golf Course, Kilifi County on February 10, 2022. [Courtesy]

Kenyan golfers made a false start in the opening day of the 2022 Magical Kenya Ladies Open tournament at the par 72 Vipingo Baobab Ridge Golf Course in Kilifi County yesterday.

Sweden’s Linnea Strom took the day one lead after 18 holes when she returned a score of a 4 under par 68 gross giving herself a two-shot cushion heading into the second round today.

But it was the opposite for Kenya's only lady professional Bhavi Shah, who found the going tough after finishing last (94th). The Nyali Golf and Country Club player returned a disastrous score 20 over par 92gross. 

Strom carded a decent first nine, hitting birdies at the second, sixth and seventh holes but dropping shots at the fourth and eighth holes for a total of 35. She had an excellent back nine, carding a total of 33 courtesy of birdies at the 11th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 18th. Her only blemish on the back nine came at the par-4, 16th, where she dropped two shots. 

Speaking after the round, Strom said: "The wind was tricky out there, and the course was pretty firm, so if you don't hit it where you want to, it can pretty much bounce anywhere. I played steady today, I had eight birdies, but I made some mistakes as well, but overall, I am pretty happy with the score; there are still some things I need to figure out, especially in the right to left wind, but hopefully, I can work that out tomorrow and continue to play well.

"I don't mind the wind, when I play in the wind, I have to remind myself to be a bit more relaxed, and that's something I have been trying to work on in the last year. So today, I knew I had to be relaxed to have a good swing and keep a good tempo, so I think I managed to do that well today. I had a good game plan, and I enjoyed it out there with my caddie. Practice has been going pretty well, I had a couple of good practice days here, and I like the course, but I didn't really have any expectations."

"I've been working on a few things in my game and my swing at the moment, and that helps scoring-wise because I take the expectations off, and I just want to go out there to keep on improving and work on the stuff I've been working on."

France's Emma Grechi lies second on a 2 under par 70 gross while Amy Boulden from Wales and Julia Engstrom are tied third on a I under par 70 gross. 

Defending champion Esther Henseleit from Germany made a disappointing start to the tournament as she is currently 15th with a score of 2 over par 74 gross.

It was equally a bad day for Bhavi Shah after returning a disastrous score 20 over par 92gross to close the day in the last position (94th).

However, Shah's compatriots, amateurs Mercy Nyanchama with a 7 over par 79 gross, Naomi Wafula on an 11 over 83 gross and Faith Chemutai with 17 over par 89 gross progressed into the second round and hopes to make it to the next round today.

They are in the battle despite the unfortunate withdrawal of their teammate Chanelle Wangari.

Wangari, who has been camping with the team for over a week at Vipingo Village, pulled out with an injury at the last minute.

“It’s unfortunate that Wangari withdrew due to an injury, we wish her a quick recovery but we shall continue to fight on,” said Naomi.

The next 18 holes of round two gets underway today morning with the golfers hoping to make the cut and consequently sail into the next two final rounds tomorrow and Sunday.

The four-day event which is the season opener in the 2022 European Tour calendar has attracted 94 golfers from 69 countries. They are all battling for an estimated prize money of Sh38.8 million

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