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Erick Ooko in action on the opening round of the 2021 Magical Kenya Open. He finished the round with a 2-under par 69 score. (Photo: Caleb Oketch/IMG Kenya)


Golf Park’s Ooko, Amateur Taimur top Kenyans on Day One at Magical Kenya Open

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 18 – Golf Park’s Eric Ooko was the top Kenyan pro at the opening round of the Magical Kenya Open after bouncing back with an eagle on the par 4 9th to improve his prospects for the money bracket in the European Tour hosted at the Karen Country Club.

Ooko, who is one of the 12 Kenyan pros sponsored by Vison 2030, was enthusiastic what with mixed fortunes in the first round on Thursday and despite dropping four shots on the holes 1, 3, 13 and 15, he made four birdies on holes 10, 11, 16 and 7 and parted the rest of the holes.

“I am excited with today’s score because that is what God gave me. The course was a bit challenging because the greens were form and sometimes when you chip the ball it runs off the greens. But as a pro you should not complain. I did four bogeys which wasn’t something to cheer home about,” Ooko said after a tough round of golf at the Par 71 Karen County Club.

Meanwhile, as top Kenyan pros found it hard, Muthaiga junior amateur Taimur Malik captivated the field for the locals after he tied for 48.

The 19-year-old Taimur, formerly of Windsor and winner of the 2019 Kenya Junior Strokeplay, shocked all and sundry with a decent round of 2 under par 69. He made three birdies, dropped two shots and parred the rest.

Taimur finished his day’s campaign tied with Ooko who also played a 69 on the challenging course.

He also savored a shot advantage over former winner Aaron Rai who struggled with a round of 1 under par 71.

Greg Snow who was at one point on 2 under wrapped up the day on level par 71 while Mathew Omondi of Vet Lab found the going tough with a disappointing +9.

Edwin Mudanyi and CJ Wangai also struggled through the opening day with 2 over par 73.

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David Wakhu, the Golf Park pro, had to contend with 4 over par 75 which means his prospects of making the cut are as good as gone. Wakhu may need to play a 5 under on the second day to be assured of a cut.

Frenchman Benjamin Hebert dictated the proceedings after he led the first round on an impressive 7 under par 64.

Six players including Kalle Samooja of Finland tied for second on -6.

The tournament enters the second round on Friday which will be used as a yardstick to separate the boys from men, meaning Malik and Ooko could easily make a cut should they play an under or par.

Day One’s play is a clear indication that most Kenyans will struggle to make the cut and what this means is that most players will have to play excellent score to remain in the mix for rounds 3 and 4 on Saturday and Sunday.

This week’s Magical Kenya Open makes its return to the European Tour schedule as the first of two events in back-to-back weeks at Karen Country Club in Nairobi.

The event, which was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, returns to the venue for a second time. Previously, it held the honour of hosting the tournament’s debut as a European Tour event in 2019, and it will now be the stage for both this week’s tournament and next week’s Kenya Savannah Classic.

The two events in Kenya are part of the Race to Dubai which is a season-long competition to crown the European Tour’s Number One player.

Celebrating the global connectivity of Dubai and the European Tour, the list of champions since 2009 reads like a who’s who of modern-era greats, including three-time winner Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson with two titles, as well as Tommy Fleetwood, Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and most recently Francesco Molinari.

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Pos     Player R1       Thru    Total  

1                      B. Hebert        -7         F          -7        

T2                   A. Meronk      -6         F          -6        

T2                   S. Horsfield    -6         F          -6        

T2                   R. Jacquelin  -6         F          -6        

T2                   B. Ritthammer           -6         F          -6        

T2                   K. Samooja    -6         F          -6        

T2                   C. Hill  -6         F          -6        

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T2                   C. Syme         -6         F          -6        

T9                   J. Suri -5         F          -5        

T9                   J. Harding      -5         F          -5        

T9                   M. Southgate -5         F          -5        

T9                   D. Whitnell     -5         F          -5        

T9                   G. Bhullar       -5         F          -5        

T14                 R. Chinhoi      -4         F          -4        

T14                 J. Walters       -4         F          -4        

T14                 S. Kjeldsen    -4         F          -4        

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T14                 G. Higgo         -4         F          -4        

T14                 R. Langasque -4         F          -4        

T14                 T. Tree           -4         F          -4        

T14                 S. Hend          -4         F          -4        

T14                 R. Ramsay     -4         F          -4        

T14                 N. Bertasio     -4         F          -4        

T14                 D. Coupland  -4         F          -4        

T14                 G. Havret        -4         F          -4        

T14                 K. Kitayama   -4         F          -4        

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T14                 W. Nienaber  -4         F          -4        

T14                 S. Garcia Rodriguez -4         F          -4        

T14                 R. Enoch        -4         F          -4        

T14                 N. Lemke       -4         F          -4        

T30                 M. Kieffer        -3         F          -3        

T30                 D. Howell        -3         F          -3        

T30                 D. Burmester -3         F          -3        

T30                 J. Hansen      -3         F          -3        

T30                 J. Smith          -3         F          -3        

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T30                 L. van Meijel   -3         F          -3        

T30                 M. Ford           -3         F          -3        

T30                 J. Senior         -3         F          -3        

T30                 J. Kruyswijk    -3         F          -3        

T30                 S. Vincent      -3         F          -3        

T30                 R. Roussel     -3         F          -3        

T30                 O. Farr            -3         F          -3        

T30                 D. Perrier        -3         F          -3        

T30                 J. Veerman    -3         F          -3        

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T30                 G. Green        -3         F          -3        

T30                 J. Schaper     -3         F          -3        

T30                 V. Dubuisson -3         F          -3        

T30                 J. Gonnet       -3         F          -3        

T48                 D. Fichardt     -2         F          -2        

T48                 D. van Driel    -2         F          -2        

T48                 J. Ritchie        -2         F          -2        

T48                 B. Poke          -2         F          -2        

T48                 J. Donaldson -2         F          -2        

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T48                 T. Lee -2         F          -2        

T48                 R. Wattel        -2         F          -2        

T48                 T. Malik           -2         F          -2        

T48                 E. Obura        -2         F          -2        

T48                 C. Pigem        -2         F          -2        

T48                 M. Armitage   -2         F          -2        

T48                 S. Brown        -2         F          -2        

T60                 D. Huizing      -1         F          -1        

T60                 A. Juma          -1         F          -1        

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T60                 C. Sharvin      -1         F          -1        

T60                 J. Guerrier      -1         F          -1        

T60                 A. Rai  -1         F          -1        

T60                 J. Janewattananond -1         F          -1        

T60                 A. Otaegui      -1         F          -1        

T60                 F. Laporta      -1         F          -1        

T60                 L. Gagli           -1         F          -1        

T60                 H. Porteous   -1         F          -1        

T60                 S. Söderberg -1         F          -1        

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T60                 G. Fernández-Castaño        -1         F          -1        

T60                 L. de Jager     -1         F          -1        

T60                 M. Schneider -1         F          -1        

T60                 P. Angles       -1         F          -1        

T60                 K. Moon         -1         F          -1        

T60                 R. McEvoy     -1         F          -1        

T60                 J. Luiten         -1         F          -1        

T60                 O. Wilson       -1         F          -1        

T79                 A. Saddier      E          F          E         

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T79                 A. Chesters    E          F          E         

T79                 M. Schwab     E          F          E         

T79                 R. Karlberg    E          F          E         

T79                 G. Snow         E          F          E         

T79                 J. Stalter         E          F          E         

T79                 J. Lima            E          F          E         

T79                 B. Evans        E          F          E         

T79                 J. Catlin          E          F          E         

T79                 G. Migliozzi    E          F          E         

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T79                 J. Morrison     E          F          E         

T79                 L. Slattery       E          F          E         

T79                 G. Porteous   E          F          E         

T79                 R. Bland         E          F          E         

T79                 E. Ferguson   E          F          E         

T79                 R. Santos       E          F          E         

T79                 A. Cockerill     E          F          E         

T96                 J. Caldwell      +1        F          +1       

T96                 R. Mansell      +1        F          +1       

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T96                 J. Okello         +1        F          +1       

T96                 T. Pulkkanen +1        F          +1       

T96                 D. Drysdale    +1        F          +1       

T96                 S. Ngige         +1        F          +1       

T96                 W. Besseling +1        F          +1       

T96                 P. Kasozi        +1        F          +1       

T96                 O. Lieser        +1        F          +1       

T96                 S. Chege        +1        F          +1       

T96                 G. Coetzee    +1        F          +1       

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T96                 Á. Quirós        +1        F          +1       

T96                 D. Law +1        F          +1       

T96                 S. Kim +1        F          +1       

T96                 M. Keyser       +1        F          +1       

T96                 L. Scalise       +1        F          +1       

T96                 K. Reitan        +1        F          +1       

T96                 J. Fahrbring   +1        F          +1       

T114               J. Asena         +2        F          +2       

T114               C.J. Wangai   +2        F          +2       

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T114               A. Cañizares  +2        F          +2       

T114               J. Campillo     +2        F          +2       

T114               E. Molinari      +2        F          +2       

T114               H. Long          +2        F          +2       

T114               E. Asuza        +2        F          +2       

T114               R. Sciot-Siegrist         +2        F          +2       

T114               L. Johnston    +2        F          +2       

T114               A. Karlsson    +2        F          +2       

T114               O. Fisher        +2        F          +2       

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T114               M. Pavon        +2        F          +2       

T114               J. Lagergren  +2        F          +2       

T114               S. Sharma      +2        F          +2       

T114               J. Sandhu      +2        F          +2       

T114               M. Schmitt      +2        F          +2       

T114               Y.K. Chang    +2        F          +2       

T114               G. Forrest       +2        F          +2       

T132               V. Joseph      +3        F          +3       

T132               E. Blanco       +3        F          +3       

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T132               S. Chawrasia +3        F          +3       

T132               A. Levy           +3        F          +3       

T132               M. Antcliff        +3        F          +3       

T132               M. Kawamura +3        F          +3       

T132               D. van Tonder           +3        F          +3       

T132               C. Sordet        +3        F          +3       

T132               N. Hojgaard   +3        F          +3       

T141               I. Makokha     +4        F          +4       

T141               C. Paisley       +4        F          +4       

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T141               D. Wakhu       +4        F          +4       

T141               A. Odoh          +4        F          +4       

T141               H. Li    +4        F          +4       

T141               P. Figueiredo +4        F          +4       

T147               L. Bjerregaard           +5        F          +5       

T147               D. Indiza         +5        F          +5       

T147               P. Njuguna     +5        F          +5       

T150               G. Moynihan  +6        F          +6       

T150               T. Koivisto      +6        F          +6       

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T150               R. McGowan +6        F          +6       

153                 R. Charania   +8        F          +8       

154                 M. Omondi     +9        F          +9       

155                 A. Balala         +10     F          +10    

156                 Z. Lombard    +11     F          +11 

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