The European Challenge Tour makes a welcome return to Kenya this weekend for the Kenya Open – a tournament that was an integral part of the Challenge Tour Schedule from 1989 to 2002.
One glance at the list of former winners of the tournament shows that netting the Kenya Open title can be a launchpad for a successful career on The European Tour.
Lee James was the last man to win the title and it proved to be the perfect start to the perfect year for the Englishman, who went on to dominate the 2002 Challenge Tour campaign with a further two victories en route to finishing Number One on the Rankings with €121,531.
Trevor Immelman of South Africa, who collected his second consecutive South African Airways Open title on The European Tour in January, won his first professional event at the 2000 Kenya Open.
Immelman went on to finish the 2000 Challenge Tour season at tenth in the Rankings and he has since emerged as one of the games most exciting talents.
Another former Kenya Open champion who is now making big strides on The European Tour is the Dutchman Maarten Lafeber.
Lafeber’s victory at the Kenya Open in 1999 went a long way to ensuring he finished the same season at seventh on the Challenge Tour Rankings to graduate to The European Tour.
The 29 year old, who won the Dutch Open last season, also secured his maiden professional victory in Kenya, and, along with Immelman, is the perfect example of what can be achieved through a profitable Challenge Tour career.
Both Immelman and Lafeber realised their dreams after winning the Kenya Open – and this week’s winner will be hoping to repeat their success stories.
The Kenya Open will be staged at the magnificent Karen Golf Club in Nairobi. The 6,893 yard, par 72 championship course is a stunning venue, and a fitting place to begin a new era for the Challenge Tour in Kenya.