June 22, 2024

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Mutahi Kibugu puts up a good fight against fancied visiting pros at Muthaiga

Mutahi Kibugu shot a brilliant three under 68 to keep the high flying visiting pros in check as the duo of Dylan Mostert and John Catlin scorched the Muthaiga course going seven under 64 to go joint top in the opening round of the Magical Kenya 2023.

Kibugu started on the back nine with a birdie on the par-5 tenth hole but dropped two successive shots on the 11th and 12th. Three birdies on 14,16, and 17 sandwiched a bogey on 15 for a one under 34 at the interval. A strong run on the turn headlined by two birdies on number two and four saw the home player sign off on three under to close the day in position T20.

Veteran Dismas Indiza and Greg Snow carded level par 71 to keep alive their hopes of making it to the weekend rounds. Two birdies and a bogey on the front nine saw Snow post a respectable one under 35 on the tough front nine but a string of bogeys on 11,13 and 15 set him back in position T74 alongside compatriot Indiza, seven shots off the pace.

“I think the course was playing so well today. I hit many fairways especially on the back nine. The greens are quite fast and I expect them to be firm and tougher tomorrow especially when playing in the afternoon conditions,” said Kibugu, the elder brother to the amateur star Njoroge.

Back to the leaders, American Catlin shot a bogey-free round as he registered five birdies and an eagle on the sunbaked course. After struggling on the front nine where he only managed a single birdie on the par-4 number six, Catlin turned on the heat on the turn with a brilliant run of four birdies before crowning the day with an eagle on number 18.

“I got off to a really hot start and just made some bad swings, I didn’t take advantage of the par fives and hit a really bad lay-up on seven. It was a god round of golf, I left a few out there for sure. A nice way to build some momentum. I feel like I’ve been close, just a poor swing here, misjudgement here, that’s all it takes out here. It’s very fine margins,” said Catlin.

A dropped shot on the par-4 number nine denied Mostert an outright 18-hole lead but the South African will take solace in the strong show on the back nine that saw him sink five birdies for a brilliant 30 gross.

“I’m very pleased. I played very solid today, kept the momentum going throughout the round. Made some good putts, hit a lot of greens. The greens are small, so if you’re hitting greens you’re going to have a lot of chances. I managed to make a few putts, I’ll just keep doing the same thing. I’m excited for tomorrow,” Mostert commented.

Wil Besseling of Netherlands and Frenchman Pierre Pineau are tied in third, one shot behing the co-leaders. Defending champion Ashun Wu had a shaky start posting a round of one under 70.

The field will be reduced to 65 players plus ties after tomorrow’s round. Only one local player has made it to the weekend rounds in the last two tournaments.

LEADERBOARD DAY 1

PLAYER            SCORE

D. Mostert         -7

J. Catlin             -7

W. Besseling     -6

P. Pineau          -6

B. Virto             -5

T. Murray         -5

C. Jarvis          -5

N. Bachem       -5

M. Kawamura  -4

H. Long             -4

N. von Dellingshausen   -4

B. Easton          -4

N. Elvira            -4

R. Cabrera-Bello -4

L Nemecz         -4

M Armitage -4

M Kieffer -4

W Nienaber -4

M Kibugu          -3

……………………………………………………….

G Snow             Par 

D Indiza            Par

V Mapwanya   Par

R Chinhoi        Par

S Ngige           +1

N Kibugu        +1

C J Wangai   +2

S Njoroge      +3

D Nduva        +3

M Kisia          +4

J Lejirma       +4

A Balala +5

R Rugumayo +5

J Madoya      +6

J Sandhu       +6

D Maara +8

D Kiragu          +10

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