Undeterred by the cold and tough course conditions, Mikael Kihara won the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) sanctioned Kabete Junior Open Challenge after a grueling campaign that pushed him to his limit.
The Vet Lab Sports Club's junior member fired rounds of 80, 73, 74 and 80 to lift the inaugural title ahead of handicap 5.1 Nathan Mwangi of Karen Golf and Country Club, who posted 318 (78, 76, 81, 83).
His highlight was the opening 78 and round two 78, which gave him the big leap forward as he broke away from Mwangi’s jaws on his way to the major maiden win.
Mwangi, the 2023 Karen Match Play Champion, did not have a so good showing due to what he couldn’t figure out even after a steady opening first and second rounds.
“My game was just off after the second round. I couldn't get myself back on track despite giving it my all, but I’ll live to fight another day. Congratulations to Mikael, he earned his spot,” said Mwangi.
Another top junior golfer, Belinda Wanjiru was third with a round of 327 (84, 83, 79, and 81) to lead in the girls’ category.
Stiff WAGR conditions of play require juniors with an age limit of 18 year to play the 54-holes event self-caddying and without parents or relatives in tow.
A final round score of not more than 24-overs on average 6-strokes per round saw a lean field of 33 take part. Out of this, there were two disqualifications and two withdrawals.
“It was a pretty wild four rounds up and down a bit, I would also like to thank my playing partners Belinda and Nathan who pushed me but I stayed focused on the ultimate prize. Glad I won.'' Mikael said in his speech
Kabete Junior Open Challenge is one among many events lined up by Vet Labs Sports Club management as part of its centenary celebration slated for August.
It is one of the 10-events under the WAGR sanctioned events under Junior Golf Foundation (JGF) Calendar for 2023.
Others are, Coast Junior Open at Vipingo Ridge, Central Rift Junior Open at Nakuru Golf Club, Kenya Junior Strokeplay Championship at Muthaiga Golf Club and Kenya Junior Matchplay Championship to be held in Sigona.
Limuru Country Club will host Limuru Junior Open with Kitale Club playing host to North Rift Junior Open.
While Kakamega Sports Club has the Western Junior Open, Royal Nairobi Golf Club will host the second strokeplay event dubbed Royal Junior Strokeplay Championship before Sigona Club winds up with Sigona Junior Open.
“We believe that these events will go a long way in arming our juniors with the requisite skills and exposure as they prepare to play in bigger events. So far the quality of play on display is commendable and better times are coming.” observed Adams Nyaga, Vetlabs JGF convener.
At Nyeri Club, Darsh Khilan playing off handicap 28 inked two birdies, five pars to win Division 1 during KCB East African Golf Tour five points clear of Dr Stephen Thuo who posted 45 points.