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What it means to join European status for Kenya.

With a total prize kitty of pound 1.1m (Sh126 million) courtesy of the Government, Magical Kenya Open presented by Absa made its long-awaited debut in the elite European Tour.

Kenya Open, which celebrated 50 years of existence last year, was incepted in 1967, has since 1991 counted towards the Challenge Tour. Last year, Kenya Golf Limited partnered with the Kenyan government courtesy of President, Uhuru Kenyatta himself to raise the prize stakes to pound 500,000 in a bid to make it the most lucrative tournament on the Challenge Tour's 2018 schedule. European Tour, which is part of the prestigious Race to Dubai Series, happens to be one of the two biggest professional golf tours on the globe alongside the US PGA.

Asked what the new status means for Kenya, tournament's director, Patrick Obath, revealed that joining the European Tour has far-reaching effects for various stakeholders.'

'For one, as a member of the European Tour, the Kenya Open is beamed live to over 490million homes across the world, giving Kenya's blossoming golf tourism priceless publicity. With the new status, the event will now attract a higher calibre of pros,' said Obath. Stars like Rory McIlroy, Trevor Immelman, Tommy Fleetwood, Patrick Reed, Ernie Els, Francesco Molinari and many other top global players happen to be members of the Tour, meaning the country will now be regarded as a significant golfing destination.

And how long will it take to bring home the world-beating golfers? 'We may not attract all the top players in our initial years, but we are certain that with time, Kenyans will get to see these top golfers ply their trade right here on our grass.'

'The European Tour Production team has been in the country to film and air the Kenya Open and send that signal to several broadcasters across the world. For the one week, the eyes of the world's golfing fraternity have been firmly on our beautiful country,' Obath explained, adding: 'The European Tour gives us an excellent platform to market the country as a whole but more specifically as a superior golf tourism destination. This is a key benefit of joining the European Tour, perhaps the most significant benefit, and I am confident we will see our nation's brand as a golf tourism destination grow.'

In the main tour, the Kenya Open has joined a prestigious list of events including the Jo'burg Open, BMW South Africa Open, Tshwane Open and Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa, the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, the Trophee Hassan II in Rabat and prestigious events such as the Open Championship, the BMW PGA Championship, the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and the final event of the European Tour- the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.

Joining the European Tour also culminated into the establishment of a local Safari Tour series, a regional professional golf tour which aims to improve the standards of professional golf in the region.

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Publication:The Star (Nairobi, Kenya)
Geographic Code:6KENY
Date:Mar 18, 2019
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