NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 25 – Italian Lorenzo Gagli was on Sunday crowned the winner of the 2018 Barclays Kenya Open at the Muthaiga Golf Club.
33 year old Gagli had to face Sweden’s Jens Fahbringin a play-off after the two were tied on a 273 score of 11-under par after 18 holes.
It took three play-off rounds at Muthaiga’s 13th hole to separate the pair, with Jens Fahbring hitting his third tee shot inside the water hazard to hand Lorenzo Gagli the win.
Gagliwho started the day 4 shots behind the overnight leader, played a round of 3-under par, hitting four birdiesto take full advantage of the leading pack’s dropped shots.
Overnight leader Sebastian Soderberg folded after the first three holes on the day, hitting 4 bogeys and one double bogey to return a score card of 3-over par after the round, taking his overall score to 9-under par, to see him finish tied for 6th place.
Lorenzo Gagli, walks away with Sh10mn (80,000 Euros), with Gagli pocketing 55,000 Euros, the trio of Philipp Mejow, KalleSamooja and Nico Geyger who tied in third place won 30,000 Euros.
Speaking on his win Lorenzo Gagli thanked his family, management, tournament organizers, sponsors, the Muthaiga Golf Club and spectators.
“It is an amazing feeling to stand before you today, it is a great honour to win my first title in Kenya, I want to thank my parents, management, sponsors, the Muthaiga Golf Club for keeping the course in perfect shape, also the spectators for the support.”
Kenyan duo of MohitMediratta and RizCharaniafinished placed T71 and 69th respectively, the two returned similar scores of 3-over par on the day, to take their scores to 8-over par and 6-over par respectively.
Speaking on his overall performance at his first appearance at the Kenya Open, Mohit expressed his pleasure but bemoanedhis bad luck in rounds 3 and 4.
“It has been a beautiful experience playing in my first Kenya Open, I’ve had a wonderful time competing in front of a home crowd. Being my first Kenya Open I have done myself and everyone proud.”
“Unfortunately I haven’t had the weekend that I was hoping for, but it has proved to me that I can play at the highest level. I can only grow from here and I hope to come back next year as a better golfer.” He added.
For their efforts, RizCharania and MohitMediratta were each awarded KES. 100,000 by the Kenya Open Golf Limited on top of the prize money from the tournament.
This year’s tournament attracted a total of 156 players from 30 countries including Kenya’s contingent of 22 professionals and 4 amateurs.
Speaking at the trophy presentation ceremony, President Uhuru Kenyatta, challenged the Kenya Open Golf Limited to get the tournament to the European Tour, by the year 2019.
To this effect the President doubled the Government’s commitment to the tournament to 2.2 Million Euros and urged the other sponsors to up their contributions.
“I appreciate the important role the size of the prize kitty plays in growing this game, in this regard this is the richest tournament in the European Challenge tour, this has enabled us attract some of the best golfers in the world.
“However we need to do more, I want to see us in the European tour next year, so that our own golfers can compete with the best in the world. Equally important getting on the European tour I believe will see our events aired live across the world and it will be a great boost for our tourism and helping us get jobs for our young men and women.”
“To join the European tour, the prize money has to be much higher, recognizing the benefit to the country in terms of potential increase in trade, investment and tourist visitors which entirely will lead to job creation.”
“I am persuaded and very happy to announce an increase in our government contribution from 1 Million Euros to 2.2 Million Euros and I call upon others who have been supporting this game to also borrow a leaf and also up their contributions.” He added.
The President also urged the Kenya Open Golf Limited to hasten the plans for the Safari Tour as a platform to expose Kenya’s juniors and professional golf players to top competition.
“The Kenya Golf Limited has informed me of plans for the Safari Tour, which will be a professional Golf tour that will also serve as a training ground for our juniors and our amateurs, by exposing them to not only competition here but also from other regions we will go a long way in sharpening and positioning them to be top prize winners in the future.”
Speaking after a successful tournament, Tournament director Mr. Patrick Obath spoke about what it takes and what it means to host a European Tour event.
“Hosting a European tour needs a different level of organization, when the President talked about creating employment, this will be from the numbers expected to visit the country during the tournament.”
“We will be having up to 700 people coming into the country directly involved in the tournament. Adding the spectators we expect to host around 3,000 people during the two weeks of the tournament,” he added.