Thika Sports Club’s Simon Ngige, one of the three Kenyans who made cut in the 2016 Barclays Kenya Open at Karen, kept Kenya’s hopes high in this year’s tournament after a brilliant four under par 67 in the first round at the par 67 Muthaiga Golf Club course on Thursday.
Ngige dropped a shot at the sixth after hole after pulling to the left side of the sixth green, then hit a bad driver at the eighth, missed the green on regulation to drop his second shot of the day.
“I know this course well, it requires one to stay on the fairway,” side Ngige, who also bogeyed the 14th from the centre of the fairway.
He hit his approach shot to the right bunker to pick a five, having made birdies at the first, fourth and fifth which were followed by four others at the back nine where he birdied at the 13th, 15th, 16th, and 18th for his 67 half way the round where South Africa-based Stefan Andersen and Nakuru’s Richard Ainley were on level par 71, just a shot better than Tony Omuli who closed the first round on one over par 72.
Andersen, who last made cut in the open in 2012, birdied the third, fourth, seventh and the 10th, dropped a shot in each nine while Ainley picked his birdies on the third and ninth and dropped shots on the first and 10th.
However, one of the Kenyan pros Mathew Omondi from Vet Lab Sports Club was disqualified for signing for a lower score at the par four-15th.
At least 13 locals had finished playing by press time while the remaining 14 were still on the course battling it out.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s Jaco Ahlers fired seven under par 64 to take an early lead halfway the round.
Starting from the back nine, Ahlers eagled the 10th, birdied the 12th, 16th, 17th, and 18th, then picked up a double bogey at the fourth after a birdie at the second hole.
He wound up with a birdie at the ninth for his 64 which was a shot better than Wales’ Rhys Davies and Sweden’s Oscar Lengden who both fired six under par 65 each.