NAIROBI, Kenya, May 31 – Muthaiga’s Kellie Gachaga is the winner of the Kenya Ladies Open, a 54-hole stroke play championship.
With this victory the 16-year old handicap-4 junior sensation becomes the top amateur golfer in the country.
Gachaga had a rough start to the championship, posting a horrendous score of 14-over gross 85.
Addressing the media at the end of the championship she blamed her nerves for the poor performance in Round One.
“I was playing against some of the best players in Kenya; Ladies like Florence Maina, Mary Karano, Jane Njoroge and my friend Naomi Wafula, and I was a bit shaky throughout the round,” she said.
“My driving was erratic, I couldn’t get my mid-irons on target and my short game was also a bit off but my dad encouraged me after that first round and I felt better.”
Her dad, Alfred Gachaga, who is a member of Muthaiga Golf Club, coaches both his daughters, Kellie and Jaimee.
In the second round, Gachaga was on fire through the first nine, scoring six pars, two birdies on the short par-4 3rd and on the tough par-4 8th for a 1-under par score of 35.
On the back nine, bogeys on the 10th and 16th holes and doubles on the 14th and 16th holes marred what was otherwise a brilliant card.
“I must make friends with the par-5 10th hole, it is not a tough hole, but the water feature to the left always gets to me. The 14th and 15th were just foolish; I took unnecessary risks and paid the price for it. Lesson learnt!” Gachaga added.
In the third and final round, the young Gachaga once more breezed through the first nine with five pars, one birdie, two bogeys and a lone double at the long downhill par-3 5th hole.
On the back nine, she found birdies on the 15th and 17th holes, added four pars to her tally and finished with a gross score of 76.
Gachaga’s scores of 85, 76 and 76 for a gross total of 237 was enough for a three shot victory over Naomi Wafula whose score of 80, 80 and 80 was enough for a second place finish.
Veteran golfers Mary Karano, Jane Njoroge and Florence Maina finished in 3rd, 4th and 5th positions respectively with scores of 247, 248 and 248.
Olive Njagi was the gross winner in Division 2 with a gross score of 298. Rachael Ndei was the runner up with a score of 298, losing on count-back.
The nett winner in Division 2 was Jaimee Gachaga. The 11-year old Jaimee is the sister to Champion Kellie Gachaga. For her efforts, Jaimee’s handicap came down from 35 to 30.
Kellie Gachaga will now proceed to the British Open Junior Championship to be played in Kilmarnock, UK from the 11th to 13th July 2016.
“The Junior Open Championship will be a good opportunity for me to judge my skills against those of juniors from across the world, I am looking forward to the experience,” Kellie Gachaga added. “For now, I will keep training and listening to my parents.”