Barclays has announced its three year title sponsorship of the Kenya Open, the longest-running event on the European Challenge Tour Schedule.
The 2011 Barclays Kenya Open will be played from March 31-April 3 at Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi, Kenya, the venue for the last two editions of an event which was first played back in 1967 and joined the Challenge Tour Schedule in 1991.
Previous winners of the €190,000 event include the 2007 champion Edoardo Molinari of Italy, who after topping the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2009 subsequently ran up two victories on Scottish soil at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles and The Barclays Scottish Open, one of two Barclays-sponsored events on The 2010 European Tour Schedule.
Speaking during Tuesday’s announcement, Adan Mohamed, Barclays Kenya Managing Director, said the bank’s sponsorship of the tournament was an opportunity to contribute to the improvement of golfing standards in Kenya.
He said: “Barclays recognises the power of sport to connect with customers and consumers from diverse backgrounds. We have been involved in developing professional leagues such as the Barclays Premier League in England and more recently cycling here in Kenya, and are committed to promoting excellence in the game of golf.”
Barclays Kenya is also committed to working closely with the Kenya Open Golf Ltd (KOGL) in running golf clinics, and identifying other ways of creating opportunities for local players to hone their techniques and encourage novices to take up the game.
Peter Kanyago, Chairman of Kenya Open Golf Ltd, said: “We are delighted by this strategic partnership with Barclays Kenya, and will ensure that the three year sponsorship they have committed to will be handled with transparency and accountability in all aspects of our organization. The KOGL is committed to delivering a world-class tournament which will showcase international golf in Kenya.
“The tournament has grown in stature over the years, and remains the biggest golfing event in the East Africa region. The Kenya Open is the only tournament in the region which meets and maintains the strict standards set by the Challenge Tour, thus attracting top international players from the Tour and from Africa.”
Alain de Soultrait, Director of the Challenge Tour, said: “It is fantastic news for the Challenge Tour and for the tournament that the Kenya Open is able to attract such a prestigious sponsor as Barclays. For many years Barclays has been strong a supporter of golf on The European Tour, so we are delighted to welcome them onto the Challenge Tour, and look forward to working closely with them for many years to come.”
Last year’s event witnessed an historic first for Kenyan golf, as home favourite Ali Kimani held the lead at the midway stage courtesy of a superb second round of 65.
Kimani eventually finished in a tie for 24th place in an event won by England’s Robert Dinwiddie, who subsequently graduated to The European Tour in eighth place in the final Challenge Tour Rankings.
The roll call of past champions includes the Argentine duo of Ricardo Gonzalez (1998) and Daniel Vancsik (2005) and Dutchman Maarten Lafeber (1999), who have all since tasted success on The European Tour, while the 2000 winner Trevor Immelman went one better in becoming a Major Champion when he won the Masters Tournament in 2007.