Golfing set for exciting week
Tiger Woods missed victory at PGA Tour by a single stroke, reigniting interest in game.
In the past week, the golfing world locally and globally has seen some exciting times. On the global scene, Tiger Woods has reignited interest in golf, driving viewership through the roof and making the PGA Tour worth watching again. His performance at the Valspar Championship at the Copperhead Course in Tampa was his best in many years, only missing victory by a single stroke. Woods is currently number 149 on the Official World Golf Ranking, and many golf fans have asked how he continues to find playing spots on the PGA Tour. To begin with, Woods is listed on the PGA Tour 2017-18 Priority Ranking, Category 2, among “Winners of the Players Championship in the last five seasons and the current season”. Woods won the Players in 2013 and that gives him a five-year exemption on PGA Tour.
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Further, any golfer with 20 or more wins on the PGA Tour automatically falls in Category 18 — life members. And if Woods fell on hard times, tournament sponsors would fall over themselves to offer him a “sponsor exemption” to participate in their event.Other exemptions available to Woods include — life exemption at the Masters as a past winner, 10-year exemption to the US Open — since he won in 2008, which expires this year. He can play the Open Championship until he is 60 years old, that exemption is available to all past champions and at the PGA Championship, he can play forever. Exemptions to the World Golf Championships (WGC) is a bit more complicated and consequently, Woods is unlikely to play at the WGC — Matchplay, Austin, Texas, next week but he is playing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Florida, this week. Woods has been victorious at the Arnold Palmer Invitational a record eight times. He won the event four years in a row from 2000-2003, again in 2008-2009 and 2012-2013. Woods is expected to tee it up at the Masters in April at the Augusta National Park.Speaking of exemptions, the 50th edition of the Kenya Open Golf Championship will be played at the Muthaiga Golf Club next week. The field will include 150 golf professionals and six amateurs. And whilst the professionals will be battling for a total prize kitty of about Sh65 million, with the winner taking home Sh10 million, the amateurs will be battling for the Amateur Silver Salver.The man who controls exemptions at the Kenya Open is the Tournament director Patrick Obath.“The field at the Barclays Kenya Open 2018 will follow a pattern common to all European Challenge Tour events,” he said. “The Challenge Tour send in 100 professionals who are members of the Tour and we get to pick 50 largely from Kenya, our neighbouring countries, South Africa and pretty much from around the globe with a focus on finding players of interest in the first instance and also some batter trade.”The tentative entry list for the Kenya Open currently lists 11 players in Category One — this list includes regular winners of the Challenge Tour and by extension, these are some of the best players to watch next week. Players under Category 4a are National Invites as invited by Mr Obath. “In this category, the majority are Kenyan Pros, currently we have 19 names listed including Dismas Indiza, Greg Snow, Simon Ngige, Riz Charani and Jacob Okello.I am expecting a few more names from the Professional Golfers of Kenya. This list also includes Ernest Ndayinsenga from Kigali Golf Club, Jimmy Mollel from Arusha, Andrew Odoh from Nigeria and Fred Wanzala from Uganda,” added Mr Obath.“You will also note on this list, past Kenya Open winners including Gary Boyd – 2009, Robert Dinwiddie – 2010, Sebastian Soderberg — 2016.” Six South Africans are also listed under Category 4a. “I send invites to golfers from countries where our local professionals can then go and play on a reciprocal basis. So when we invite players from South Africa, France and so on, we get slots for our Kenyan professionals in those countries — that is how we use our 50 invites.”The six amateurs at the Barclays Kenya Open next week include Kenya’s Bhavnish Chandaria, Edwin Mudanyi, Daniel Nduva and Dennis Saikwa. Also listed are Victor Joseph from Dar es Salaam and Ronald Rugumayo from Toro Golf Club in Uganda. “The list of amateurs is provided by the Kenya Golf Union who may also use their discretion to invite junior golfers and talented golfers from our neighbouring countries,” Obath added.Last but not least, let me conclude with a story I have written about many times. The Kenya Railway Golf Club, aka Reli, have finally been declared the winners of the 2017 Nairobi District Golf League. Their victory had been denied following machinations around their last match against Windsor. At a Nairobi District Captains’ meeting held last week, the Windsor captain withdrew his petition against Railway closing the matter and restoring justice.Reli will be hoping to win the 2018 League, shame the devil and score a hat-trick. All the best to the Reli Lions!