Kiambu golfer Mike Karanga is the talk of the town after his exploits over the weekend saw him shoot 10 under par 62 in the final round of the Kenya Amateur Golf Championship, KAGC, to shatter the Sigona Golf Club course record. His weekend exploits coupled with three victories in five starts in last year’s KAGC series were not enough to earn Karanga a place in the six-man elite amateurs squad that will play at this year’s Magical Kenya Open at Muthaiga Golf Club.
The Kenya Golf Union has named John Lejirma, Dennis Maara, Jay Sandhu, Adel Balala, Njoroge Kibugu and Daniel Kiragu as the amateurs to take on top professional golfers at the 54th Magical Kenya European Tour in March. The local golf federation is allocated six automatic slots by the European Tour organizers.
Railway golfer Lejirma earned his place after winning the Strokeplay championship and also emerging the winner of the 2022 KAGC series. Maara from Limuru Country Club booked his ticket after winning the Matchplay championship while Royal Nairobi Golf Club player Sandhu went through after finishing second in the KAGC series.
Kibugu earned his automatic place for making the cut at Magical Kenya Open 2022 while Kiragu of Muthaiga Golf Club goes through as the best junior player in the country. Balala was the surprise inclusion as the Nyali Golf and Country Club player missed many KAGC events last year. According to the criteria published by KGU, he made it to the final list as “the lowest gross winner in 2022”.
Youngster Kiragu will be making his debut at the event while Sandhu is the most experienced having featured three times. Lejirma. Maara, Balala and Njoroge were at last year’s event.
“These golfers have worked hard to earn their spots in the tournament and we are confident that they will represent Kenya with distinction. The Magical Kenya Open is a great opportunity for these amateurs to showcase their skills on the international stage,” said Njani Ndiritu, KGU chairman.
Despite being in top form, Karanga who has featured in Magical Kenya Open twice, will witness the action from the gallery but is optimistic the chosen-six will fare better this year. “It is unfortunate that I will not be at this year’s Magical Kenya Open. It is the dream of every local player to play at that level. I had a lot of personal issues to sort out last year hence my costly absence in many events. I have started the year well and am focusing on earning my ticket to the Magical Kenya Open 2024,” said Karanga who disclosed that he will not be in a hurry to turn professional citing dormancy in the local paid ranks.
The Magical Kenya Open 2023 will take place from 09 to 12 March at Muthaiga Golf Club.