The European Challenge Tour continues to chart a globetrotting path on the 2005 Schedule this week, moving on from Latin America to East Africa for the Tusker Kenya Open - a tournament that has enjoyed a long and fruitful partnership with The European Tour for almost 40 years, and, since the Challenge Tour began in 1989, has played a significant role in the development of The European Tour’s next generation of golfing stars.
Last season’s Tusker Kenya Open was another thrilling contest that was eventually decided by a sudden-death play-off, with Marc Cayeux of Zimbabwe defeating Leif Westerberg of Sweden at the first extra hole, watched by a fantastic crowd of enthusiastic spectators that included the President of Kenya, His Excellency The Hon. Mwai Kibaki.
Cayeux and Westerberg both used their presidential performances at the Karen Golf Club 12 months ago as the springboard to a hugely successful 2004 season.
Both players finished the year within the top 15 on the Challenge Tour Rankings (Cayeux took fourth spot and Westerberg seventh place on the Rankings) to secure their current places on The European Tour International Schedule, and underline the importance of the Tusker Kenya Open on the Challenge Tour Schedule.
This week’s competition should be no different to last year’s, and Sunday evening will see the crowning of another worthy champion to join an illustrious list of former Tusker Kenya Open winners that includes former European Ryder Cup Captain, Seve Ballesteros of Spain, and Europe’s newly appointed Ryder Cup Captain, Ian Woosnam of Wales.
Another former Tusker Kenya Open champion – England’s Lee James – will be hoping to recapture former glories at the Karen GC this week.
James captured the Tusker Kenya Open title in 2002, which signaled the beginning of an astounding year for the 32 year old in which he went onto win a further two events en route to dominating the Rankings and finishing the year as Challenge Tour Number One with earnings of €121,531.
This year, the prize fund for the Tusker Kenya Open has been increased to €150,000, thanks largely to tournament promoters, Kenya Open Golf Limited, and their co-sponsors, who have shown an excellent commitment to the event, and indeed, the future of the Challenge Tour in East Africa.