Magical Kenya Open Tournament Director Patrick Obath was very optimistic in the run-up to this year’s showpiece. Having organized eight relatively successful Safari Tour events to prepare the local players for the stern Euro Tour tournament, Obath was expectant. Alas it was not to be!
In a postmortem of the event, Obath points out three reasons why the pros performance was underwhelming; players’ attitude, poor game management and lack of golf development structures in the country.
Two weeks before the Magical Kenya event, Safari Tour pros shot encouraging scores at Muthaiga during the final leg of the Safari Tour where the winner carded -15 gross. The locals failed to replicate the form at Magical Kenya Open, where they all missed the cut after failing to adapt to the tough course conditions.
“The fairways were watered sparingly meaning the lies were so tight while the greens were very hard. The local players failed to change their game accordingly an indication that they did not have what it takes to adjust to tough conditions. These are the course conditions we were trying to replicate on Safari Tour but sadly the players went on strike to protest the move!” said Obath.
Whereas lack of exposure has often been cited for the pros declining fortunes, Obath says local pros must change their attitude, more so, towards practice and match preparation. “So how do these players practice on a day-to-day basis and ahead of big events? We must have structured drills but above all I feel discipline is also lacking,” warned Obath.
Obath decried the lack of coaches in the country saying the local pros will not make it in big events by relying on self-instruction. He said: “Even the best players in the world have coaches. This is an area we must invest in as a country. We must invest in a golf development Centre that is well equipped and well-resourced to start training the young players. Most of our pros do not have access to basic training equipment like Trackman”
And now Obath says Safari Tour will roll out myriad changes in the coming season to address the gaps. “We are targeting to increase the Tour events to 16, each with Kshs 3 million prize money so that we can attract more foreign pros. We would like to have eight events in Kenya, four in Uganda and two each in Tanzania and Rwanda,” he said.
The Tour projects to enroll at least 105 players in the 2022/23 season a move Obath says will bring competition to the local’s doorstep. The move is likely to elicit mixed reactions as the ongoing influx and domination of pros from Central Africa is fast becoming a hot potato. “We want to move away from government sponsorship of our events so that Kenyans don’t feel entitled. The Safari Tour is an international competition and has to be open to all. Actually, we will start dropping non-performers and eventually introduce a qualifying school system,” Obath warned.
Meanwhile, a lot will be at stake this week when PGA Tour stars return to action at the Valspar Championship after a disappointing outing at The Players Championship. Elite players on Tour led by Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka on Tour will be out to redeem themselves after failing to rise to the occasion at The Players where they lost to low key opponents in an event that was won by Cameron Smith. In fact, Schauffele, Spieth and Koepka did not make the cut.
American Sam Burns, the reigning champion of the event, is back to defend the title seeking to emulate K.J. Choi (2002, 2006), Retief Goosen (2003, 2009) and Paul Casey (2018, 2019) as the only players to win the tournament more than once. The Valspar Championship which has a $7.8million prize purse will be held at the par 71 Copperhead Course at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Palm Harbor, Florida.
SuperSport viewers on DStv can look forward to seeing all the action from Thursday 17 to Sunday 20 March 2022. Visit www.dstv.com to subscribe or upgrade, and join in on the excitement. And while you’re on the move, you can stream matches on the DStv App.
Valspar Championship broadcast details
Thursday 17 March
21:00: Day 1 – LIVE on SuperSport Golf
Friday 18 March
21:00: Day 2 – LIVE on SuperSport Golf
Saturday 19 March
20:00: Day 3 – LIVE on SuperSport Golf
Sunday 20 March
20:00: Day 4 – LIVE on SuperSport Golf