Lejirma charges to Ronald Marshall's victory in Njoro

Ronald Marshall Trophy winner with his trophy at Njoro Country Club, May 19, 2024. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

John Lejirma, closed with a 4/2 to win the 97th edition of the Ronald Marshal Trophy at the Njoro Golf and Country Club layout on Sunday.

The 32-year-old went all out to successfully defend his title, which he won in 2023, after winding up the final day victory over Felix Dusabe of Rwanda.

A superb ball striker complimented with an amazing touch on the green where he sank unimaginable putts courtesy of his putter which was on fire.

Lejirma seemed to have all the required skills to navigate the tight and challenging nine-hole course from day one.

Having played 2-under in his practice round despite the greens playing hard worsened by the sandless bunkers, he seemed not to be fettered by either. Finishing at 3-over on day one stroke play pole position to qualify for the 16-man matchplay knockouts.

His pace was slowed down after being pooled against formidable players who included Vet Lab's Ebil Omollo, Kevin Baraza of Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort, Elvis Muigua of Kiambu Golf Club, Amos Odongo and Josphat  Rono, both from Golf Park.

Luckily, he didn't play against Rono or Odongo in the knockouts.

Lejirma fell Baraza 1-up to advance into the quarter-finals, where he faced  Muigua in what was dubbed the "Kenya-1 versus Kenya-2" face-off.

The Kenya Team skipper prevailed over Muigua 1-up to book a semis match against Odongo. He again triumphed 2/1 to set himself up against Dusabe, who has been causing ripples in the KAGC 23/24 season.

The lanky Rwandese, from Kigali Golf Club, was nervous playing through the front nine but picked himself up and bounced back into contention at the back nine has now shifted his focus to the upcoming KAGC-sanctioned, Coronation and Bendor Trophy slated for May 31-June 2.

An elated Lejirma said, "I want to thank my sponsors, Easy Toothpaste and my home club Kenya Railway Golf Club for helping me achieve this milestone."

"I would like to turn pro and create room for younger golfers but what next after that? So in the meantime, I'll try to push it here in KAGC before we get more events at the pro ranks."  he mused.

Dwindling prize money has contributed greatly to the lean field that graced the tournament. Njoro Country Club Chairman, Steven Macharia promised to increase the kitty to ensure the game is bigger next year.

"As a club, we shall strive to increase the prize money next year. We shall also ensure that the knockouts will field 32 golfers instead of 16," said Macharia.

Outgoing Golf Kenya President, Phillip Ocholla accompanied by his Vice-Chairman, David Ndungu, who addressed the prize ceremony appealed to the youth and said, "Clubs should prepare strategic plans to ensure continuity and call upon the youth to get into positions of leadership."

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