The magnificent and historic Muthaiga Golf Club is a fitting venue for the Barclays Kenya Open, a tournament steeped in history which has been won by many of the game’s greats.
Located at the edge of the Karura Forest some 15kms from the capital city of Nairobi, Muthaiga Golf Club originally opened as a nine-hole course in 1913, before being extended to 18 holes in 1926.
It first hosted the Barclays Kenya Open in 1967, when Guy Wolstenholme – father of European Senior Tour champion Gary – took the title.
He was followed into the winners’ enclosure 11 years later by the great Seve Ballesteros, the first of three Major Champions to lift the trophy, with Welshman Ian Woosnam repeating the feat in 1986 and South African Trevor Immelman completing the set in 2000.
Immelman’s victory, eight years before he slipped on the Green Jacket as the winner of the Masters Tournament, was notable also for those players who finished immediately behind him on the leaderboard, namely Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and Frenchman Grégory Havret, both of whom have – like the South African – enjoyed considerable success since gaining promotion to The European Tour.
The same is true of Ryder Cup winner Edoardo Molinari of Italy, the winner of the Barclays Kenya Open in 2007, and more recently England’s Gary Boyd, who used his victory at Muthaiga Golf Club in 2009 as the launchpad for his march to The European Tour, finishing in the top 50 of The Race to Dubai in his debut season last year.
Last year’s Barclays Kenya Open winner, England’s Robert Dinwiddie, has made a sterling start to his campaign on The European Tour, currently occupying 49th place in The 2011 Race to Dubai thanks chiefly to his top ten finishes in both the South African Open Championship and the Africa Open.
In taking the title 12 months ago, Dinwiddie became the tenth winner of the event since 1998 to graduate to The European Tour at the end of the season, so the omens are highly promising for whoever succeeds him as champion this week.