In Summary
  • At 49 years, can Jacob Okello rise to the expectation of Kenya’s golf enthusiasts in this year’s Barclays Kenya Open golf championship?
  • That’s the question on many fans’ lips as the tournament returns to its original home — Muthaiga Golf Club — after four years.
  • Okello’s sensational 1998 second place finish at Muthaiga remains the best a Kenyan has ever reached in the Barclays Kenya Open, the oldest and perhaps the most popular event in the Challenge Tour series.

At 49 years, can Jacob Okello rise to the expectation of Kenya’s golf enthusiasts in this year’s Barclays Kenya Open golf championship?

That’s the question on many fans’ lips as the tournament returns to its original home — Muthaiga Golf Club — after four years.

Okello’s sensational 1998 second place finish at Muthaiga remains the best a Kenyan has ever reached in the Barclays Kenya Open, the oldest and perhaps the most popular event in the Challenge Tour series.

Born in Kampala on Christmas Day of 1968, Okello made his name in the Open when he came close to winning the event, losing in a sudden death play off at the old hole 13 at Muthaiga to Argentina’s Ricaldo Gonzalez.

It was the most painful loss to Okello, and the big crowd of Kenyans who had followed him right from day one.

And he had the title in his pocket until he picked up a double bogey at the old par three 15th after sending his eight iron to the upper left thicket.

He went on to finish on 12 under par to tie with the pro from Argentina who went on to gain his entry in the main European Tour.

And Okello would equally won the play-off if one spectator did not stop Gonzalez’s ball with his body. His second place, however, earned him then some lucrative sponsorship to play in the Challenge Tour in Europe and later to the Sunshine Tour in South Africa where played and made several cuts over the two years he was based there.

But since 1998, his best placing in the Barclays Kenya Open whose prize fund this year stands at 220,000 Euro, has been a fifth place and that was way back in 2010.

He has not been as lucky though of the past six years or so. He has been struggling with making the second round cut.

He blames this rather poor performance on lack of serious tournaments.

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