This week, the Kenya Golf Union (KGU) announced the six amateurs who had been selected, through merit, to play in the 2019 Kenya Open Golf Championship. They include Daniel Nduva, Samuel Njoroge, Edwin Mudanyi, Mike Kisia and two junior golfers, Bradley Mogire and Akshay Chandaria.
For the past two years or so, Nduva, who is based in Johannesburg, South Africa has reigned as the best elite amateur in our country. He was victorious at the 2017 Amateur StrokePlay Championship, the 2017 Nyali Open, the 2018 Uhuru Shield and the 2018 Amateur MatchPlay Championship.
But despite his impressive performance on the amateur circuit, Nduva has failed to impress on the big stage. He played the Kenya Open in 2014 and 2018, returned some uncharacteristically high numbers and promptly missed the cut on both occasions. He played in the 2018 Karen Masters and again missed the cut with scores of 81 and 78.
Nduva and the other amateurs will be facing a considerably more challenging course at Karen come the Kenya Open in March. They will find the rough to be unforgiving, the greens firm and fast and the par-5 15th will be played as a par-4 during the Kenya Open.
Njoroge, a +2 handicap golfer is the 2018 Kenya Amateur Golf Championship winner – making him, on paper the top Kenyan amateur and it will be interesting to see how he fares against some of the best golfers in the world. Edwin Mudanyi and Mike Kisia both playing off +1 handicaps will be under pressure to give good accounts of themselves on the big stage offered by the Kenya Open.
Bradley Mogire, a +2 handicap junior golfer is based at the Butch Hammon School of Golf in Dubai and has played on the MENA Tour in the Middle East as well as on the Teen Wold Championship 2015 at the Pinehurst Course Number 8, North Carolina, USA.
Mogire has been impressive on some of the local amateur competitions and it is evident that he has what it takes to perform well at the Kenya Open. The other junior golfer, Chandaria has continued to return good results as a junior; he is the 2018 Kenya Junior StrokePlay Champion and in 2017 he finished second at both the Kenya Junior StrokePlay and MatchPlay Championships.
Incidentally, during the Ladies Invitational Championship at Vipingo Ridge a week ago, I had the pleasure of playing one round in the company of Daniel Nduva and lady Professional Amy Boulden. Nduva was in top form, driving the ball down the middle of the fairway and over 300-yards on most holes. His iron play was impeccable and if he carries this form into the Kenya Open, I have no doubt he will claim the Kenya Open amateur silver salver, my money is on him.
Boulden described Nduva as a skilled golfer with a lot of talent. “I have played with many top amateurs and male professionals and having walked 18-holes with Daniel I can confidently say he has a great future in golf,” she said. “His mid to long irons are true and long, making him a formidable competitor, I wish him all the best at the Kenya Open.”
Boulden plays her golf on the Ladies European Tour and was part of a team of lady professionals visiting Kenya on the invitation of Vipingo Ridge.
The Kenya Open Golf Championship will be played at the Karen Country Club from the March 14-17, 2019. A total field of 156 golfers is expected, of whom six will be amateurs, eight will be Kenyan professionals and another eight will be invitees of the Kenya Open.