Whilst he may lack the experience of his first round playing partners, European Tour champions Daniel Vancsik and Marc Warren, rising Kenyan star Greg Snow will bow to no-one in his knowledge of the course hosting this week’s Barclays Kenya Open.
The magnificent Muthaiga Golf Club, situated on the outskirts of the Kenya’s bustling capital Nairobi, is Snow’s home club, and he used his local knowledge to good effect when winning on his domestic Tour at last week’s Jamii Telecom Limited Masters, courtesy of a four under par aggregate total.
Since turning professional last July, Snow – who took up the game as a six year old – has now won twice and also finished runner-up behind European Tour Member James Kamte of South Africa at last year’s KCB Grand Finale, held in Nyali, Mombasa.
The talented 21 year old has competed in the Barclays Kenya Open on three previous occasions as an amateur from 2007-2009, narrowly missing the cut each time, and will be making his professional debut on the Challenge Tour at this week’s €190,000 event.
Snow believes the experience he garnered from playing as an amateur on a mini-tour organised by the Kent County Golf Union in England and on the collegiate circuit in the States will stand him in good stead in his future career, which he hopes will include a full season on the Challenge Tour.
He said: “Playing in England was a great experience for me, both as a golfer and a person. I learned a lot about playing different types of courses in different conditions. I also had my first experience of playing links golf at Royal Cinque Ports, which was a real eye-opener. I’ve never played in wind like it, but I enjoyed it and it improved my game no end.
“I came back to Kenya and won the domestic Order of Merit as an amateur, and then decided to head to the University of Texas in the States and play on the college circuit on an International Business scholarship. I finished sixth in the Nationals and third in the Regionals in my junior year, then came home last year and decided to turn pro.
“This is obviously a really big week for me, because it’s my first Kenya Open as a pro. I haven’t really set myself any targets as such, but if I can finish in the top ten then that obviously gets me into the next tournament, and also gets me noticed by sponsors when it comes to handing out invitations. So if I can prove myself this week hopefully it’ll open a few more doors for more, because the only way I’m really going to improve is to play more often in Europe.”
No Kenyan has won their national Open in the 43-year history of the event – the closest the host nation came to acclaiming a home winner was in 1998, when Jacob Okello lost out in a play-off to Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalez.
But Charan Thethy, Chairman of the Professional Golfers of Kenya (PGK), believes Nairobi resident Snow represents the home nation’s best hope for some time of ending the drought.
He said: “I believe Snow carries the hopes of the nation this week. He’s been playing very well since turning pro, and this could be his time. But golf can be a funny game, so we just hope that he can maintain his form this week.”