• Barclays Kenya Open championships will spring suprises

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  • Nicholas Rokoine will be among the local pros challenging for the Kenya Open title.(Photo:Shutterspeed)Nicholas Rokoine will be among the local pros challenging for the Kenya Open title.(Photo:Shutterspeed)
Mar 28, 2012-

The 2012 Barclays Kenya Open that starts at its traditional venue, Muthaiga Golf Club from Thursday, will spring its surprises.

No one can predict a winner – no one ever has – and so the winner who raises the trophy Sunday will be surprise winner – because we will not expect it.

In order to fill column inches in the local media, as well as on sporting websites, writers will throw out a few names . Who to Watch? Who will Win? are common enough headlines.

As part of the European Challenge Tour, the Kenya Open gives the Kenya golf professionals the opportunity to earn the largest purse in the country.

With a total prize fund of €190,000 (Kshs 20.9 million) and the cut at 60 players and ties, the lowest earning is more than most locally organized events.

The winner receives a cheque for Ksh.3 million. Not bad for four days work!

Last year’s winner, South Africa Michiel Bothma returns to defend his title accompanied by a host of other South African players.

The Southerners have the advantage of having played golf for the past five months, whilst the Europeans have had a winter break.

If anyone is going to try and guess who will win – then the South Africans are definitely the ones to watch. They took the top three places in 2011.

Brandan Grace – who came third at the Barclays Kenya Open last year – will not return to Kenya. He won back to back victories on the European Tour in South Africa this season, and briefly ranked top in the Race to Dubai at the beginning of the year.

Brandon (as Bothma) did not graduate from the Challenge Tour at the end of the last season but got his tour card through the Qualifying School. Bothma did not try for his European card, being an established Sunshine Tour member.

And do not forget Tyrone Ferreira, the 2011 Runner-up. Only two shots behind Bothma, he has already played on the Challenge tour earlier this year in India.

The South Africans take advantage of the Kenya Open and the doors it can open to Europe where the pickings are richer than at home.

But not to forget-the European players. Who remembers Frances’ Julien Quesne from last year’s event? He came 9th with 7-under and a fortnight ago, won the European Tour Open de Andalucia Costa de Sol in Spain.He took home a cheque for KSh.16.6 million. Rather more than the Ksh.400,000 he won in Nairobi in 2011.

All this confirms the fact that the Kenya Open, as a Challenge tour event, is ideally suited here. It is the breeding ground for up and coming golfers, training for how to be a successful golf pro, how to survive four rounds, how to cope with the anxiety, how to deal with the fact that each putt missed costs your pocket and how to forget where you are playing.

Local support brings pressure. To perform well on home soil. Kenya has a strong golfing community who love to come out to support their own. This year will be no exception.With 24 Kenyans professional and 6 Kenya amateurs drawn to start, there are quite a few names.

So advice to the local lads: Earn some money this week, enjoy the experience and learn as much as you can. Make us proud.

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