Kenya Open has finally joined the European Tour following several years under the second tier Challenge Tour.
Kenya Open Golf Limited (KOGL) yesterday confirmed that the Kenya Open has finally attained a European Tour status. “Starting next year, the prestigious global golf series will savour the opportunity of welcoming international golfers such as Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed, Tommy Fleetwood among others,” he added.
The 2019 Kenya Open Golf Championship, will be held at the Karen Country Club from March 14-17. The event is expected to draw the interest of top golf talent from across the globe and further boost the country’s sports tourism as a result.
While making the announcement, KOGL chairman, Peter Kanyago, said the attainment of the European Tour status grants the Kenya Open a larger profile which comes with greater demands and rewards for all involved.
“Today (yesterday), I am pleased to announce that the Kenya Open Golf Championship, having been ascertained to attain the requirements to join the European Tour, has officially received the European Tour status and will be part the worldwide golf circuit starting next year. We are delighted to have achieved this milestone as we believe it will propel the Kenya Open to the next level as we embark on this new phase of the tournament,” he said.
Following the milestone, the KOGL has announced a 1.1million euros (approximately Sh126m) prize kitty for the 2019 Kenya Open Golf Championship. This is double the total prize money awarded during this year’s tournament which marked the championship’s 50th anniversary.
The prize kitty increament also follows the announcement by President Uhuru Kenyatta in March this year that the government is increasing its commitment towards the event.
Remarking on the prize money, Kanyago said the increase is as a result of the Government’s support towards next year’s tournament, adding that the move will enhance the profile of the tournament across the region. “As result of the support by the government, the total prize kitty for the tournament will be doubled from 500,000 euros to 1.1m euros. As a consequence, we believe the tournament will attract a higher calibre of top players from across the globe—further rais the profile of the event,” he said.
At the same time, Kanyago announced that the KOGL, in a bid to prepare local professionals for next year’s tournament, will be hosting a nationwide golf series that will also be used to grow and develop golf across the country.
“To prepare our local players to cope with the demands of the European Tour and in line with our strategic objectives, I am delighted to announce that the KOGL is launching the Safari Tour—a nationwide golf series featuring four-rounds of golf over a period of four days with a prize kitty of Sh1 million per event,” he said.
Each Safari Tour occasion will feature a Pro-Am event which will feature host club members, elite amateurs and elite juniors. The Tour will also include community outreach programs (including tree planting) and golf development engagements including golf clinics for school children and juniors in the neighbourhood and club members. “We believe that this series will go a long way in preparing the local pros prepare for the 2019 Kenya Open and enhance their chances of winning the tournament,” said Kanyago.