The stage is set for the fourth edition of Kenya Ladies Open which tees off Thursday at the Baobab Course, Vipingo where a field of 108 is expected to take to the pristine, yet challenging, par-73 PGA-accredited course.
Round one will tee off at 7:45 am with the trio of Finn Emily Penttila, Slovak Pia Babnik, and Englishwoman Georgina Blackman teeing off at the first; whilst the trio of Tiffany Chan from Hong Kong, Sara Kouskova from the Czech Republic and Spaniard, Marta Sanz Barrio will tee-off from the 10th at the same time.
17-year-old amateur, Chanelle Wangari, will be the first Kenyan off the tee at the event at 8:07 am from the tenth in the company of Nataliya Guseva and Lisa Pettersson from Sweden – who last year recorded the first hole-in-one at the event.
Naomi Wafula, who was the only Kenyan who made the cut at last year’s tournament, will tee off at 8:40 am alongside Kirsten Rudgeley from Australia and Madelene Stavnar from Norway.
Speaking on Wednesday in Vipingo, Naomi said she is aiming to finish higher at this year’s tournament having gotten good exposure at events in Europe since last year’s Magical Kenya Ladies Open.
“My main goal for tomorrow and the rest of the week is to do my best and not just make the cut, but also have a really good score that gives me the highest possible finish,” she said.
Kenyan amateur, Mercy Nyanchama, will tee off at 9:02am alongside Sofie Kibsgaard Nielsen from Denmark and Samantha Bruce from the Philippines. This will be Mercy’s fourth outing at the event, where she will be looking to cut having missed out on weekend action in the previous tournaments.
Meanwhile, Dubai-based Kenyan amateur golfer, Kellie Wahito Gachaga, and Vipingo-Ridge-based Jacqueline Walter will tee off at 9:13 am and 1:16 pm respectively as they begin their quest at the event. This will be Kellie’s debut at the tournament where she will be looking to cut.
April Angurasaranee from Thailand has unfinished business in Vipingo having ended last year’s challenge tied in second. She will take to the tee at 1:05 pm to begin her charge.
Speaking ahead of the round, she said: “I just have a lot of good memories here. Finishing second and just playing with many people in the first event. They are nice memories, everyone just made me comfortable and made me enjoy everything. The crowd is nice. Everyone here just makes me feel right where I think I need to be.
“I think I like this course in general. It looks good visually and this year’s condition is better than last year’s. I think it’s going to be fun. The little extra stuff like giraffes and zebras, it’s a nice element to have. Walking down the fairway and then just the giraffes casually walking the fairways, you don’t get it anywhere. It’s a good experience.
“My goal for the year, I want to get my first win. I want to finish in the top 15 in the Order of Merit this year. Last year, I missed by one from my goal, but it was it was still a nice finish.”
Alice Hewson from England, who finished joint second with April last year, will begin her challenge at this year’s tournament at 12:21 pm, while Diksha Dagar, the best-placed finisher at last season’s Order of Merit, will tee off at 8:29 am.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s Shannon Tan, a rookie on the tour, will tee off at 8:51 am at the tenth. Speaking ahead of the event, she said: “It is my first time in Kenya. I am very excited about it. Before coming here, I was excited to begin with, so now that I am finally here, I am going to play my practice round in an hour or two. I am just excited to see what the course is like. I have heard about the course, but I want to see it. I have heard they’ve got animals, so that will be interesting.”