NAIROBI, Kenya, April 3- Credible performances by Dismas Indiza and Brian Njoroge at the recently concluded 44th Barclays Kenya Open kept the local charge buzzing although the title drought for Kenyan golfers continued to bite.
Six local pros made the cut as compared to four the year before in a marked improvement that led to the Kenya Open Golf Limited (KOGL) to announce that it would be involved in sponsoring them to European and Sunshine Tour events.
Indiza and Njoroge finished as the highest ranked in joint 22nd with a total of two under 282 for the tournament while Giddie Ganeev, Stefan Andersen, Nicholas Rokoine and Anil Shah made it to the prize money share bracket.
With the hard and dry course taking a toll on the players Indiza and Njoroge once again pressed the case that with more exposure, Kenyan golfers can hold their own against their European and South African counterparts.
Before the event, Indiza, who had a nightmarish second day of the Jamii Telcom PGK Open build-up competition in the week preceding the European Challenge Tour competition echoed the sentiments of most Kenyan pros.
“These guys play in more than 40 events per year and here we are lucky to field in five or even go outside to play in the Sunshine and European Tours,” the long hitting player said.
At the Open, Indiza greatly improved on the last year’s performance where he finished in a dismal 101st position although it is far off his best in the 2008 event when he was 10th overall on 279.
Njoroge playing in his sixth Kenya Open followed him closely with a three under, one under, par, and two over for a similar share of the prize money.
“I feel I played well, I didn’t made enough birdies to contend, there are a few holes that I got tense especially with the huge home crowd following but in general am happy with my performance,” said Njoroge.
Giddie Ganeev finished 26th on the final leader board tying interestingly with Danish Morten Madsen who was an overnight leader in the first two rounds and also had a share of the lead in the third round.
“My expectations were to play to play good golf and make the cut since I have never made it since I turned professional,” he told Capital Sport after round two.
Ganeev carded a one under par score of 283 on his fifth appearance at the event.
Stefan Andersen posted a par score of 284 which was his best performance in his fourth appearance at the event.
Stefan who recently turned pro was optimistic of his chances at the tournament after he made the cut.
“Every tourney I start in, I always want to win. I am that competitive. I don’t settle for second place. If I can keep conservative and play good enough, trust my golf swing it will give me a good momentum,” the player who toured Dubai in his Kenya Open build-up stressed.
Muthaiga resident pro Rokoine is a regular at the event who finished at position 41this year one place below his last year’s performance on the same cumulative 285.
Anil Shah was 55th with a four over par score of 288 almost equalling his 2008 performance where he finished 16th although he had not made the cut since.
“What we need is money from our companies. They need to trust in us because with the right funding, we can go places and give their brand more visibility.
“These guys from Europe and South Africa are well sponsored and you can see the results,” Charan Thethy, the chairman of Professional Golfers of Kenya noted.
Kenya Open organiser, Patrick Obath, called on the pros to organise themselves into a group that can be managed and marketed to the companies to attract financial backing.
“Our players need to emulate top footballers and athletes and have agents who can package them as a product and sell this to prospective sponsors here and abroad.
“There is disconnect between the players and the companies who can sponsor them and this is the link that can be achieved by having them professionally managed,” he added.
Obath observed the KOGL had slots available for top local performers at the Kenya Open in the European and Sunshine Tours that the said players failed to capitalise for lack of funds.
“We are always seeking ways to have as many places reserved for them but without the money, they cannot travel. Our wish is for PGK and ourselves to sit down and come up with a way forward.
“Pointing fingers alone will not be an answer since it is evident we have a lot of talent but as a tournament governed by the Challenge Tour, we have strict entry regulations,” he continued.
Ahead of the event, Kenyan golfers had threatened to boycott the event if the number of pros was not raised from the initial 20 allotted although the situation was averted when Kopan Timbe and James Orum were finally added at the last.
England’s Seve Benson who claimed the third Challenge Tour title of his career after he saw off Denmark’s Lasse Jensen in a play-off won the tournament as the title shifted from South Africa to Europe.
The two had tied on a ten under par score of 274, a result that necessitated the tie-breaker
England’s Phil Archer, who won last month’s Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic, shared third place with South Africa’s Tyrone Ferreira.
Kenya was represented by 22 professionals and six amateurs with 156 participants registering for the event with a total of 26 countries represented.
The tournament was the third in the 2012 European Challenge Tour.