Barclays Bank of Kenya, part of the Absa Group, will sponsor six Kenyan professional players and the leading amateur, Samuel Njoroge, at the Magical Kenya Open championship at the Karen Country Club between March 14th and 17th.
The six players are C.J. Wangai (Professional Golfers of Kenya team captain), Tony Omuli, David Opati, Ooko Erick Obura, Jastas Madoya and Rizwan Charania, and are among the 12 Kenyan pros who qualified to play at the Magical Kenya Open this year. As part of this sponsorship, the bank has offered each of the six Pros KES100, 000. Additionally, any of the six players who make the cut on Friday will get a KES 50, 000 bonus with a further KES50, 000 awarded if they finish overall top 20.
Speaking of the sponsorship, Barclays Bank Kenya Managing Director Jeremy Awori challenged the six players to fly the Kenyan flag high during the four-day tournament that will be broadcast live across the world.
"This year will provide one of the greatest challenges many of our Kenyan pros have faced in recent years as each of them will be debuting on the European Tour, we commend them for making it this far and wish them luck in the week ahead," said Mr. Awori adding that, "It is our hope that the rich history of our tournament can serve to inspire and push each of them to do their best on the course."
In addition to the elevation of the tournament to the main European Tour, the Kenya Open Golf Limited has already announced a Euros 1.1 million (about KES 126 million) prize pot for the 2019 tournament, double the total money from last year which marked the championship's 50th anniversary. The event is expected to further boost the country's sports tourism offering as a result.
This year, Kenya's hopes are pinned on a set of 12 professional players who booked their places via the Kenya Open Golf Limited's Safari Tour led by Muthaiga Golf Club's Greg Snow. Apart from the six above, the other Kenyan pros include Dismas Indiza, David Wakhu, Simon Ngige, and Nelson Simwa. Meanwhile, the amateurs playing at Kenya Open this year include Daniel Nduva, Samuel Njoroge, Edwin Mudanyi, Mike Kisia, Bradley Mogire and Mutahi Kibugu.
Barclays has been synonymous with the Kenya Open for the last 8 years as the main sponsor and this year, as the presenting sponsor. The bank, through Pan-African financial institution Absa Group, has announced an enhanced sponsorship of KES220 million to KOGL for the next two years in tandem with the increased status of the tournament.
"For us at Barclays, the elevation of the Kenya Open to the main European tour could not have come at a better time than this, when we are just about to adopt the Absa brand which is a proudly African, bold and transformative banking group, that is passionate to work with all stakeholders to realize Africa's potential, demonstrating its transformative and futuristic abilities," Ms Ndung'u said. "We are thus extremely proud to be associated with this achievement, given the opportunity it affords us and our partners to expose our Kenya golfers to the very best that the world has to offer."
To date, no Kenyan has ever won the tournament. The closest the country has come to a win was in 1998 when Jacob Okello lost to Argentine Ricardo Gonzalez in a play off at the Muthaiga Golf Club. In 2014, Dismas Indiza and Greg Snow were the best-placed local players, finishing 5th and 6th overall, respectively.
Absa's association with sports sponsorship is long-standing. Absa has been the official sponsor of one of the continent's biggest football tournament - the Absa Premiership League since 2007, which has seen the growth and development of local and foreign soccer players and coaches within the league. Absa also currently sponsors the Absa Cape Epic, an exhilarating eight-day off-road mountain bike stage race that takes place annually in South Africa's Western Cape Province.