24th June 2019 | Sunshine Tour
KCB Karen Masters: What’s what
The Sunshine Tour is going to stage the second edition of the KCB Karen Masters this week, following the introduction of the tournament in our schedule last year in Kenya’s capital Nairobi. The event will be staged at the 82-year-old Karen Country Club from 27-30 June 2019.
The tournament is sponsored by the Kenya Commercial Bank and boasts a prize-fund of R2.2-million (which is an increase from the last year’s R2-million).
The competition will be decided over 72 holes of stroke play. After 36 holes there will be a cut to the leading 60 professionals and those who tie on the score.
The defending champion:
Michael Palmer. He won by two shots on 18-under 270 last year and he is coming to defend this week.
Founded in 1937, Karen Country Club prides itself for being one of the oldest golf clubs in Kenya. The course is superbly maintained with greens built to PGA standards. Karen Country Club is arguably the best-maintained golfing facility in the region.
It stretches over 6,000 yards, covering some of the most scenic terrains. The layout presents a challenge to even the most seasoned golfer, usually forcing the use of every club in the bag. The fairways are tight in some spots and open in others. Well-positioned bunkers guard the holes and landing zones throughout course, placing a premium on accuracy. From the well-manicured fairways and plush rough to the meticulously cared for undulating greens, Karen Country Club delivers a visual treat as well and there is no doubt that the club not only offers the total golf experience but can be hailed as one of the iconic and standout courses on the continent.
A large part of the 18-hole course was built on the former coffee estate developed by the Danish pioneer, Karen Blixen, whose life and times were depicted in the lyrical film ‘Out of Africa’. Indeed, the shade trees from her coffee plantation still dominate parts of the golf course, over 80 years after they were planted.
The course is a par-72 layout and a challenging 6,341 metres (6,934 yards) in length from the championship tees.
The form player:
JC Richie has already bagged a win outside the South African borders this season at the Zanaco Masters and after that, he finished 16th at the Investec Royal Swazi Open and fourth at the Sun City Challenge. Richie will want to do better than the eighth spot he got at the last year’s tournament when he tees up this week. His season, so far, has been almost a replica of his last season in terms of the form where he only missed the cut once – at the Zanaco Masters which he bounced back to win this year – but he has not missed the cut in his four starts this season.
The sentimental pick:
Merrick Bremner was a runner-up at last year’s tournament. The five-time Sunshine Tour winner has made cuts in all his four starts this season which includes one top-10, two top-20s and the 27th at the Lombard Insurance Classic. The 33-year-old seems to be in a good space to do well this week, especially after the thrill of making it into the field for the US Open for his maiden start in a major championship.
Callum Mowat was denied an opportunity to claim his maiden win on Tour at the Mopani Redpath Zambia by Daniel van Tonder who took a single-shot victory. After that, he went on to withdraw from the next tournament and miss two cuts. He also missed 12 cuts in 22 starts last season. So it seems it would be surprising if he were to win in Kenya. But he does have the memory of a 15th-place finish there last year, as well as his recent share of 11th at Sun City in the last Sunshine Tour event this season. It would be a pleasant surprise if he put it all together.