Challenge Tour Blog: Kenya feel the love?

2/14/2013 9:24:00 AM
Lucas Bjerregaard feeding giraffes in Kenya for the Challenge Tour Series  (EuropeanTour)
Lucas Bjerregaard feeding giraffes in Kenya for the Challenge Tour Series (EuropeanTour)

Whether you spent Valentine's Day snuggled up with your loved one watching Happy Gilmore - the most romantic golf movie ever made - or on a lonely range trying to perfect your power-fade, our Challenge Tour blog has plenty of love to give as it brings you all the action from behind the scenes at the 2013 Barclays Kenya Open?

Lucas is having a giraffe

The “Challenge Series”, our very own television series which broadcasts highlights, features and player profiles on Sky Sports certainly know how to take our Challenge Tour stars out of their comfort zone.

Lucas Bjerregaard, the former European Amateur Championship winner who plays his rookie season on the Challenge Tour this year, was given the experience of a lifetime when he met and fed some giraffes at a nearby sanctuary in Nairobi.

The young Dane got to pop some food pellets in the giraffes’ mouths, experiencing the strange sensation of a huge giraffe tongue slurping against his hand.

While the 21 year old was not brave enough to take up the challenge, visitors can have the giraffes eat the pellets from between their lips.

Indeed, the Challenge Tour Series’ own James McDougall duly obliged and was the recipient of a big, wet Valentine’s kiss from one of the gigantic mammals.

Karen who?

The host venue for this week’s Barclays Kenya Open is situated in a suburb of the Kenyan capital Nairobi called Karen, and anyone who knows their African history might have an inkling as to where that name came from.

Karen Blixen was a Danish author best known for the famous book “Out of Africa”, a memoir of her time living in the British colonial Kenya in the early 20th century which later became a well-known film.

Blixen moved there to marry her Swedish second-cousin Bror von Blixen-Finecke, where they established a coffee plantation called “Karen Coffee Company” and the area on which that plantation stood is what is now known as Karen.

Her home is still standing and is now a tourist attraction, should any of the players who miss the weekend cut feel like scratching up on their Kenyan history!

Kenyan badge of honour

A win at any Challenge Tour tournament is always a badge of honour to be worn with pride, but a win at the Barclays Kenya Open truly puts a player’s name amongst some of the greats.

The Kenya Open was, once upon a time, one of the major events on the now-defunct Safari Tour, which took place prior to the beginning of The European Tour season and attracted some of the world’s greatest players.

The legendary Seve Ballesteros claimed the title in 1978, while Ian Woosnam emerged victorious in 1986.

Christy O’Connor Jnr, Ken Brown and Carl Mason also inscribed their names on the trophy down the years before the legacy of the Kenya Open changed and it began producing some of the world’s best rising stars through the Challenge Tour.

It has done just that in more recent times past, with Trevor Immelman winning the tournament before going on to claim a Major title at the 2008 Masters Tournament while Edoardo Molinari won in Karen Country Club before he rose to worldwide fame.

Love is in the air in Nairobi

While not many people will have sympathy for the 156 golfers basking in the Kenyan sun and enjoying the delights of Karen Country Club this week, there were certainly a few glum faces on the opening day of the Barclays Kenya Open as many of the players spent Valentine’s Day away from their other halves.

Phones were beeping at the rate of a Quentin Tarantino movie censored for day-time television, Skype’s head offices were calling in emergency support to deal with the sudden influx of business centred around a 35 metre squared area in Nairobi and the normally-steely-focussed eyes of the professional golfers stared wistfully out whichever window they could find.

There were even reports of a few romantic gestures from far, far away, with one player rumoured to have had a room service breakfast ordered to his room by surprise.

We can neither confirm nor deny whether his scrambled eggs came in the shape of a love heart but, nevertheless, who ever said romance is dead?

Living the high life in Karen

Altitude is a great thing. It makes you fitter, it helps you get drunk easier and it also makes you look much bigger off the tee, as the players in this week’s Barclays Kenya Open are finding out.

Karen Country Club, outside Nairobi, is perched up approximately 1,857m above sea level and as a result, the players will discover this week that their ball will fly around 10-15 per cent longer than usual.

It is also the reason that so many cross distance runners can be seen running along the roads in the outskirts of Nairobi.