23 year-old Kiambu Golf Club's elite amateur Michael Karanga returned an impressive score of 3-under par 69 on the final round of the Limuru leg of the Safari Tour golf series to win the tournament with a remarkable 8-under par 280.
On the first nine, he returned 8-pars and shot a lone bogey at the par-3 7th for a total of 37. On the back nine, he sunk birdies on the 11th, 12th, 13th and 15th and held par on the rest of the holes for a total of 32. Karanga, who has played steadily the entire tournament returning scores of 68, 74, 69 and 69 for the four rounds consecutively, becomes the first-ever elite amateur to win the Safari Tour series; getting the bragging rights for both the tournaments Silver Salver and trophy.
Speaking after being awarded the trophy and silver salver, Karanga said that he was happy with his overall performance, adding that playing alongside Kenyas top professional golfers gave him the motivation to excel.
"I am delighted with this win and hope to carry the momentum to the next Safari Tour event. It was humbling playing alongside Kenyas top players as I learnt a lot from them, and also got great motivation to play well and I believe this is the reason I excelled at this event," he said.
Meanwhile, winner of the Vet Lab leg of the Safari Tour Golf series, Greg Snow, shot a steady final round to finish 1-under par 71 for a tournament total of 5-under par 283. He started the leg with a bogey at the 1st before holing an eagle at the Par-5 3rd before sinking a birdie at the Par-3 7th for a first nine total of 34.
On the back nine, he dropped shots on the par-4 13th and the par-4 17th but holed a birdie at the Par-5 15th for a back nine total of 37. For his efforts, Snow took home a cheque of KES 150,000 for emerging top Pro at the event.
Vet Lab's elite amateur, Edwin Mudanyi, and David Opati finished the tournament tied for third after returning a tournament total of 2-under par 286, while Windsor's Riz Charania finished in fifth, and was the tournaments third-ranking pro, with a tournament total of 1-over par 289. David Opati and Riz Charania took home KES 100,000 and KES 60,000 respectively.
Speaking at the prize-giving ceremony, Kenya Open Golf Limited Finance Director, Joe Wangai, said it was encouraging to see many Kenyan professional golfers consistently taking part in the Safari Tour tournaments, adding that it is the beginning of the journey towards having a Kenyan win the Kenya Open.
I am pleased by the partnership we have with the local professionals through this tour. Their continued participation points to the seriousness with which they have embraced it, and confirm to us that we are close to achieve our shared objective of having our own win the Kenya Open, he said.
On his part, the Captain of the Professional Golfers of Kenya, John Wangai, said:
"I would like to thank the Kenya Open Golf Limited for this tour; I can attest to the fact that through this event, local professionals are increasingly honing their skills and I believe through this tour, we will be ready to take on visiting pros from around the world at next year's Kenya Open Golf Championship."
Action resumes next week at the Thika Green Golf Resort for the fourth leg of the Safari Tour.