COVID-19 scuttles Odoh’s Kenya dream as Royal Nairobi tourney ends today
Nigeria’s number one golfer, Andrew Oche Odoh’s dream of being part of the Safari Tour may have been scuttled by the coronavirus and its protocols, a source close to the golfer has revealed.
Odoh was scheduled to be the first Nigerian male professional golfer on the European Tour in two decades at the Magical Kenya Open, earlier billed to tee off from March 12 through 15. But the Tour was put off following the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Kenya Open, which is on the Safara Tour series, is considered the East and Central Africa’s premier golf event.
The tournament is in its 52nd year. It is also part of the PGA European Tour by virtue of first being listed on the European Challenge Tour in 1991. For the second time, it is also one of the European Tour’s ‘Race to Dubai’ scoring events.
It is expected to feature 144 top golfers drawn from all over the world. During the 2019/2020 Safari Tour, 12 pros including nine Kenyans, one each from Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Uganda qualified.
According to one of Odoh’s confidants, who pleaded anonymity, the Nigerian top star’s participation ahs been jeopardised by COVID-19, which “protocol demands that every visitor to some foreign countries must be isolated for at least two weeks before mixing with others in his hoist country.
“What this means is that Odoh must have been in Kenya for at l;east two weeks before the October 4 tee off of the Safari Tour.”
Kenyans pros held their qualification race for one of the competitions in the Safari Tour, the Magical Kenya Open, at Limuru Country Club’s par 72 course from October 4 to 7.
According to Samson Ateka of Kenya’s Daily Star, the nine local pros who qualified last year will go into the current Safari Tour with some points advantage.
“As you are all aware, the 2020 Magical Kenya Open was cancelled. So for intents and purposes, we are starting a new season with qualifying scores. We will, however, take 10 per cent of 2018/2019 scores and 20 per cent of the 2019/2020 and 70 per cent of 2020/2021 scores.
That way, the guys who qualified last season still have some points going into the new season,” he wrote.The Safari Tour has traditionally served as a yardstick to ascertain regional qualifiers for the prestigious European Tour Kenya Open.
Besides qualification, pros will use the event to sharpen up their skills well in time for the big stage next year.
“The Magical Kenya Open returned to the emblematic European Tour series for the umpteenth time this year but the event was pushed to 2021 due to COVID-19 related issues.
“The regional players were Andrew Oche Odoh (Nigeria), Robson Chinhoi (Zimbabwe) and Uganda’s Philip Kasozi. Kenyan brigade had long-hitting Dismas Indiza, Simon Ngige, Greg Snow, Erick Ooko, David Wakhu, John Wangai, Riz Charania, Justus Madoya and Kopan Timbe. The 12 will have to seek fresh slots using the newly introduced scoring format.”
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