Mwangi quenches his thirst with big win

Karen Match Play champion Nathan Mwangi savours his moment of glory at Karen Golf and Country Club. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

Youngster Nathan Mwangi is the Karen Match play 2023 champion. 

Mwangi won the prestigious trophy after piping current Karen Stroke Play champion, Wade Kilburn, 1-up on the 18th in an adrenaline filled final duel over the weekend.

The 14-year old player fended off stiff challenge from Kilburn to lift the coveted club tournament first played in 1938 and won by then club Captain R. England. 

The tournament was played over three days in a match play format, off scratch with the eventual winner expected to play at least 108 holes to prevail.

The knockout stage set off with a round of 32 on Friday morning with progressive winners advancing into the afternoon round of 16.

Saturday saw them play their quarter-final matches while the semi-final matches were played later in the afternoon testing their grit and stamina. This was followed by the grand finale on Sunday covering over 36 holes.

Enroute to making history, Mwangi, a year eight pupil at Makini Cambridge routed Alistair Scott 6/4 to secure his final slot.

He etched his name on the club’s scroll of honour as he also smashed the 29-year old record set by another junior, Johnny Limb Jnr, currently a professional golfer in 1994 when he won the same title, then.

On the flipside, Mwangi’s dad, Nelson Ndegwa claimed the KANBE trophy after beating Stephen Wang’ombe 3/2 to make it a father and son affair.

Another first in the clubs annals of its 86 years of existence that a father and son have won the two events in the same season finale.

Mwangi stuck to his game plan of playing a par game and not being greedy for birdies something that he implemented with precision, luckily some birdies came calling along the way, including the winning birdie putt on the par-three, 14th hole that sealed his historic victory.

“To my fellow juniors, my challenge to you is, this is a high time that we should take charge of our game and accord it the seriousness it deserves. We can do it!” Mwangi challenged other juniors

His sentiments were echoed by Karen Captain Chris Pasha.

"Nathan's victory serves as a testament to the commitment and passion of our junior golf program. It is a testament to the hard work and support of our coaching staff, the unwavering dedication of their families, and the vibrant golfing community that surrounds us."

Day One saw the defending champion Emmanuel Ageng'o eliminated by newcomer Terra Saidimu. While last year’s runner up and immediate past Captain James Ngotho, was knocked out by an upcoming junior Arman Sheikh.

The highlight of the weekend was the performance of the 3 juniors - Arman Sheik, Ewan van Nierkek and the eventual champion Nathan Mwangi.

The featured match of the day was between former Champion Paul Kaguamba and Dennis Chebitwey. The ex-champion had an easy ride but faced an early exit in the afternoon losing to Liban Roba in play-off on the 22nd hole. The same fate befell former winner and past captain Gilbert Maina.

Champ Mwangi was up against tough opponents but went on to oust long hitting David Murima on the 3rd play-off hole as their match was all square after 18 holes.

In the next match he took the current Karen Club Stroke Play Champion Wade Kilburn to the 18th hole, winning 1-up.

On Saturday, Nathan was up against a fine golfer in the quarters, Liban Roba, who had just quashed former winner Paul Kagumba. Before defeating junior golfer Ewan van Niekerk, to book a place in the Finals. 

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