In-form Samuel Njoroge got off to a flying start as three players –Njoroge, Daniel Nduva and Rodell Gaita-went joint top in the opening round of the final leg of the Safari Tour at Muthaiga Golf Club. The trio carded four under 67 to take a one shot overnight lead at the par 71 course.
Njoroge who won last week’s Karen leg was slow off the blocks after dropping a shot at the par-3 second hole and only managed one birdie on number four to finish the side level par. On the turn, the Kenya Railway player upped his game with back-to-back birdies on no. 10 and 11, dropped a shot at the tough-playing no. 12 then went on a birdie-run on no. 14,16 and 18 to enhance his chances of clinching a double.
Nduva, winner of the Vipingo leg, started play on the back nine with a good run that saw him card three under 32. He maintained the steady run after the interval picking two birdies on the front nine but was pegged back by a bogey on the par-4 no. six.
Little-known Gaita had a superb outing with two eagles (no. 15 and 18) and four birdies. However, four bogeys- two on either side- denied the Ugandan an outright lead.
Home player Mutahi Kibugu finished in third position, one shot adrift after carding 68 on a day 10 players played under-par.
In a bizarre turn of events, Safari Tour Order of Merit leader Robson Chinhoi was barred from playing for “failing to register within the stipulated time”. Apart from denying the field the much-needed quality, the move has put Chinhoi’s Magical Kenya Open qualification in danger. Despite being on top of the log, he is engaged in a three-way qualification battle with countryman Visitor Mapwanya and Uganda’s Ronald Rugumayo for the two slots reserved for foreign pros. If Mapwanya and Rugumayo manage at least 20 points from the Muthaiga leg, Chinhoi will miss the coveted ticket.
A total of 78 players, including six amateurs, are taking part in the event-the final in the Safari Tour 2022/23 calendar. The field will be reduced to top 20 and ties after tomorrow’s round.
S Njoroge -4
D Nduva -4
R Gaita -4
M Kibugu -3
J Sandhu -2
A Galgalo -2
R Rugumayo -1
V Mapwanya -1
C Nsanzuwera -1
S Shah -1