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The two Wangai bothers CJ and Samuel Njoroge are part of the 12 Kenyan pro golfers sponsored by Vision 2030. Photo/FRANCIS MBATHA

Golf

Wangai siblings reflect on exhilarating journey ahead of European Tour

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 17 – Kenyan golf siblings CJ Wangai and Samuel Njoroge share many things in common!

The two brothers are among the 12 Kenyan professional golfers sponsored by Vision 2030 ahead of the two European Tour golf tournaments (Magical Kenya Open and Kenya Savannah Classic) to be hosted at the Karen Country Club from March 18-21 and 26-28 respectively.

“This year is different because we have COVID-19 and there have been strict regulations that have been put in place and Vision 2030 coming on board is a big aid to the pros because basically they are catering for all our expenses and for our pros to perform better, we need a sponsor and Vision 2030 has done that and that will ensure we play better in Magical Kenya Open and Savannah Classic,” Wangai told Capital Sport.

Like countless other golfing brothers, the Wangais possess an insatiable appetite for success.

This is what sees them back to the greens and fairways, time and time again.

But that doesn’t mean that everything they do on the course is similar- their diverse facet in play is actually what makes them a delight to watch more so off the tees.

Similarities for the duo are many.

For one, they are both very enthusiastic about the sport and savour a sterling amateur record having both won the Kenya Amateur Golf Championship (previously known as GOTY when CJ won it)

On the course, the two brothers swing alike, a trait they have inherited from their dad.

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“I started playing golf at the age of 9 in Njoro. My grandfather was the first black manager at Njoro where I had won many caddie tournaments. So, I started in the Club compound of Njoro and golf was all we could think about. Anthony Muhoro, then the Captain of Railway Club took me to the Nairobi based Club where he ended up as a golf admin. As a pro I think I have not achieved a lot but I believe there is still room for improvement,” Wangai revealed.

“Dad still plays golf off handicap 5 at Njoro and Nakuru and is 62 years. He took us along the stepping stones to competitive golf which influenced our swings immensely,” Wangai narrated.

Still on similarities-their ball flights are the same -they hit higher off the tees.

What’s more, the duo are playing super golf at the moment and will be among the 12 local pros to watch in the back-to-back European Tour events, the Magical Kenya Open and Kenya Savannah Classic.

They both learnt the ropes at Njoro Golf Club alongside their youngest sibling Richard Muthugia.

Their first cousin Sullivan Muthugia Wangai is also a very regular pro at Thika Sports Club.

Their neighbour from Njoro, Simon Ngige (now in Thika) is among top 5 pros in the country at the present.

Similarities of the Wangais end there.

While Wangai is very aggressive on the ball, Njoroge is conservative.

With Njoroge making his Kenya Open debut as a pro, CJ will be back to grace the fabled event for the umpteenth time.

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Wangai turned pro in 2012 after a one-and-a-half-year stint in amateur ranks. Njoroge joined paid ranks in October last year and is already showing some flashes of brilliance after making the cut in all the Safari Tour events save for Rift Valley round where he was taken ill.

“Basically, we are two different players. For me if the hole is 330 yards, I will honestly go for it. I will take my driver and go for the kill. Njoroge will be conservative.” Wangai said.

He added, “Njoro Golf Club has long produced a steady pipeline of players who have found a home on pro and amateur ranks. Like Tiger Woods would put it, the more you practice the luckier you will be. I would also say the same.”

Njoroge is 22 and already boasts a Nigeria Open win as an amateur – having won the KAGC in 2018 and 2019.

Wangai joined the Kenya amateur team in 2011 and was ranked 4th at the time. He won the Dasani Series and led Kenya to the East African Challenge victory in 2012.

Wangai also represented the country at the Africa Zone 6 in Lilongwe.

“The highest level you could actually go in amateur ranks is playing for your country and after that happens, there is truly nothing more to achieve. So, I turned pro in 2012 after a one-and-a-half-year stint as an amateur… Also, after seeing many players who played as amateurs for many years and when their time to turn pro came, they were unable to do so,” asserted Wangai.

Wangai notes that one should turn pro when time is ripe. My brother (Samuel) turned pro at a younger age in October last year and enjoyed some good positions

“2013 was rough for me. But in 2014, I finished in the top three of the KCB Series Order of Merit. And KCB took us to South Africa to play the pre-qualification event of the Johannesburg Open. I won 6 pro tournaments in the KQ Series, Kenya Open Qualifiers, Road To Masters and KCB Series. The same year I was employed as the resident professional at Sigona.

“Being a resident pro and playing golf is quite a challenge. Sometimes fatigue sets in but as a professional you really have to soldier on,” Wangai, who is also the Captain at the Professional Golfers of Kenya (PGK) went on.

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-Njoroge has had his fate share of success-

‘Winning the Nigerian Open (in 2018) was the biggest win of my amateur career. After the win, I thought I could play a lot more aggressively as I had one of my best tournaments and winning was really special. To have a brother- combination in the Kenya Open is pretty awesome and special. It’s a piece of history which no one can take away from us,” Njoroge, who plays at Railways in Nairobi, underscored.

Njoroge represented Kenya at the British Amateur Open in 2019 and finished 25th.

He is a two time winner of the Victoria Cup (against) Uganda in 2018/19 and finished 6th in the 2019 Zone 5 event in Mauritius.

Njoroge went on: “I wanted to turn pro in 2019 but I felt the need to improve a bit more. So, I turned pro in 2020 October just as the 2020/21 Safari Tour Golf Series started. So, I worked on a few aspects of my game.”

Like his elder brother Wangai, Njoroge admires Rizwan Charania.

Njoroge explains: “I like his (Riz) game, aggression and talent, Justin Thomas is my favourite Internationally. His fan base is out of this world. He always insists that one has to have fans on the course to play well.”

This Wil be Njoroge’s second Kenya Open and his first as a pro.

“I missed the cut by only two shots 2 years ago.”

In the Safari Tour, Njoroge had made a cut in all events expect for Great Rift Valley round where he was sick. He was born on December 20, 1993 and aspires to be the best pro in the country and also become the first local to win the Kenya Open.

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“Playing back-to-back tournaments in Safari Tour is surely going to come in handy for us. The scoring has been good, so we have high chances of performing well,” Wangai said in finality.

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