NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 12- Gary Boyd, the 2009 Kenya Open winner, his predecessor Robert Dinwiddle and 2016 champion, Sebastian Soderberg lead the contingent of foreign players expected to take part at this year’s Barclays Kenya Open Golf Championship later on in the month at the Muthaiga Golf Club.
The three will lead a high-caliber list of entries by foreign players who have expressed interest to take part in this year’s tournament, and whose participation at the tourney is now awaiting ratification by the European Challenge Tour.
Englishman Boyd won the 2009 Championship with a total gross score of 13-under 271, which was a personal improvement from the previous year’s tournament where he had finished 5th with a round score of 6-under 278.
Boyd has also featured at the Kenya Open Championship in 2014, 2015 and last year where he finished 63rd.
Fellow Englishman Dinwiddle won the 2010 edition of the Kenya Open Golf tournament with a 12-under 272 gross score; with his other outings at the tournament having been in 2007 (where he finished 82nd), 2002 (where finished 22nd) and last year at the Muthaiga Golf Club where he finished 41st with a total gross score of 4-under 280.
Sweden’s Soderberg won the 2016 Barclays Kenya Open Golf Championship with a gross score of 18-under 270 to set the tournament’s second-best score in the Championship’s history.
He has featured at the tournament on two other occasions; in 2015, where he finished 104, and last year where he finished 154th.
Notable names in the roster of entries by foreign players expected to take part at this year’s tournament include two-time Challenge Tour winner, Richard McEvoy (who won the 2017 Scottish Hydro Challenge tournament and the 2005 Panasonic Panama Open tourney) and three-time Challenge Tour and one-time European Tour champion, Roope Kakko (who has won the Madeira Islands Open tournament (twice); the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic tournament and the Volvo Finnish Open).
Other foreign nationals expected to take part at this year’s Kenya Open include Swede Anton Karlsson, Frenchman Antoine Rozne, Ugandan Fred Wanzala, Rwandese Ernest Ndayinsenga and Nigerian Andrew Oche Odoh.
This year, the tournament will also feature six South African professional players who play in the Sunshine Tour; continuing Kenya Open Golf Limited’s tradition of involving top professionals from the region in order to enhance the profile of the tournament, and to give local players a chance to play with pros from the region as well.
The six South Africans include, Oliver Bekker (7-time Sunshine-Tour-related tournament winner), Ockie Strydom, Louis de Jager, Jaco Ahlers, Neil Schietekat and Peter Karmis – who is ranked 13th overall best player in Africa by the Official World Golf Ranking.
They will be making their debut at the Kenya Open and are expected to mount a formidable challenge among the foreign players.
Speaking at the sidelines of the Kenya Open At 50 golf tournament at the Muthaiga Golf Club this weekend, Kenya Open Golf Championship Tournament Director, Patrick Obath, attributed the enhanced interest from foreign players to the increased prize money this year which has raised the profile of the tournament.
“This year’s total prize kitty of €500,000 has seen us received enhanced interest from a high-calibre list of players from across the world whose participation we believe will enhance the quality of golf that will be played at the tournament,” he said.
The Kenya Open Golf Championship has slots for 156 players; 106 of whom are selected on merit through the European Challenge Tour and 50 selected by the Kenya Open Golf Limited featuring Kenyan and regional professionals as well as local amateurs.