NAIROBI, April 9- Portugal’s Jose Luis Lima carried his brilliant form from Tuesday’s first Pro-Am by shooting to the early lead with an impressive 8-under 64 with Dismas Indiza leading the local charge on 3-under as the 2015 Barclays Kenya Open got off to a roaring start at Nairobi’s par-72 Karen Country Club.
The local crowds had plenty to cheer about on the opening day, thanks to the big hitting Indiza’s effort in his 16th Open charge having finished tied for 13th overall last year in what is certainly among his last chances to win the European Challenge Tour (ECT) national showpiece.
Indiza, the Mumias Golf Club resident pro is one of the 34 home grown players to tee it up this year, a number that is greater than in any season dating back to 1999 and was tied for 15th on Day 1 with amateur Alfred Nandwa a further stroke behind on 70 the next Kenyan on the early leader board but tied for 32nd overall.
Greg Snow, the country’s highest finisher last year on joint 10th overall having challenged for the title to the last day got off to an underwhelming start by his lofty standards by carding 2-over 74 on the opening day.
Ajay Shah (71) was the only other home golfer to beat par on Thursday.
However, the day belonged to Lima who partnered with local amateur Paul Kamau to win the Coca-Cola sponsored first Pro-Am on Tuesday after he opened up a two stroke lead over German Sebastian Heisele, Spain’s Emilio Cuartero Blanco and South Africa’s Haydn Porteous who are all tied for second on 6-under 66.
The 33 year old, who has finished runner-up on the second tier Rankings on two separate occasions – in both 2009 and 2013 – carded eight birdies at Karen Country Club.
Impressive in its own right, the French-born Portuguese golfer has even more reason to be delighted with his form in Nairobi thanks to the fact he has not played a tournament round for seven months, having undergone back surgery last September.
It had initially been suggested to Lima that the issue could bring a premature end to his golfing career, but plenty of rehab and hard work on the range has clearly proved beneficial, and he was delighted to have signed for such a strong start to the week.
“It was a good one to start, and I had exactly the same score in the Pro-Am on Tuesday and won, so to have that score two times in a row on this course makes me very happy,” said the man with three Challenge Tour titles to his name.
– Seven months-
“To have not played a tournament in seven months and come back with this round is great, and I am just enjoying being back on the course. When I was in hospital I was wondering if I would play golf again, so to come back and shoot 64 is fantastic.
“I took two months off after the surgery, but since then I have been to Morocco with my coach and I am swinging much better now. I was losing some power and flexibility last season with what was wrong with my back, but now it is sorted I am feeling very happy,” he added.
Just one stroke further adrift in a tie for fifth are Dutchman Daan Huizing, Sweden’s Oscar Stark and the Swiss player Damian Ulrich, who all carded five under par rounds of 67 on day one to stay within touching distance of the leading Lima.
They are narrowly ahead of a host of top talent in a share of eighth spot, a group that includes England’s Steven Brown, Swede Jesper Billing, Cyril Bouniol of France, Portugal’s Joao Carlota, Dane Andreas Harto and Jaako Makitalo of Finland, all at four under.
-Material sourced from europeantour.com