Rwanda’s lead professional golfer Jean Baptiste Hakizimana starts his bid for a first Barclays Kenya Golf Open crown this morning at the Karen Country Club in Nairobi, Kenya. He is fresh from winning the Kabale Open last weekend.
This year’s Kenya Open championships officially started yesterday with the amateurs’ competition, while the professionals begin their quest for the region’s most prestigious golf event today and will run through April 12.
Around 160 golfers from 19 countries across the world from as far afield as Argentina, Chile, Belgium, England, Portugal and France among others will be vying for top honors at the Annual European Challenge Tour event.
Rwanda has only been offered one slot at the event; Uganda will also have one representative, Deo Akope, while hosts (Kenya) have eleven competitors led by Dismas Ndiza, Greg Snow, Richard Ainley and John Karichu.
Before leaving for Nairobi on Monday, Hakizimana told Times Sport that, “Kenya Open is a huge competition, it takes a strong, positive and brave mentality, maturity and experience to win such a competition and I believe I have all those qualities.”
The 25-year-old, who missed the cut last year, admitted that he expects to face stiff challenge from the Kenyans as well as defending champion Jake Roos (South Africa).
From the initial starting list of 156 golfers, only the top 60 will play into the weekend for the third round on Saturday and the final round on Sunday. Kenya Open was last won by a Kenyan golfer, Peter Livingstone, in 1994.
The 2009 winner, Gary Boyd from England, and Spaniard José Manuel, are among the big names to watch.