Jacquelyne Walter will be the first Kenyan to tee off at 8:51AM off the first tee. Chanelle Wangari will also get her round going from the first tee, at 12:32 PM
The fourth edition of the Magical Kenya Ladies Open teed-off on Thursday at the par-73 PGA Baobab course, Vipingo Ridge in Kilifi where England's Eleanor Givens, South Africa's Cara Gorlei, and 23-year-old Lauren Walsh from Ireland carded 4-under par 69 to end the day in a three-way share of the lead.
Eleanor, who teed off first in the morning, opened her round with six birdies on the first nine with her only blot coming in at the par-4 fifth, for a total of 32. She found the back nine slightly challenging but held steady for a total of 37 courtesy of a lone birdie at the par-5 11th and consecutive bogeys at the 15th and 16th.
Speaking after her round, Eleanor said; “Six birdies in the first eight holes is kind of a dream way to start my season [although the course] is just really challenging. The layout is tough, and you know you can get out of position and if you do, you just have to be clever with it and that happened to me a couple of times today.
“It's windy, it's hot, its firm, it is tough, so I am so pleased with how I started and also how I battled towards the end on some of the holes I got a little bit of position on.” she said
“I haven’t been to Kenya for a while so, I just decided to come here. I couldn't believe it when I saw the zebras [today], I hadn't seen them before when I came here in 2019 and I'm really hoping to see the giraffe before I leave as well.” she added.
On her part, Cara teed-off in the afternoon as conditions got windier and hotter, but that didn’t seem to bother her as she went on to play a flawless round, carding 36 on the first nine courtesy of a birdie at the par-3 eighth; before carding 33 on the back nine courtesy of birdies at the 10th, 11th and 13th holes to end the round as joint leader.
Lauren matched Cara in playing a blemish-free round, carding 35 on the first nine courtesy of birdies fourth and the seventh, to combine with a total of 34 on the back nine courtesy of birdies at the 11th and 18th holes. The 2024 Magical Kenya Ladies Open is only the second Ladies European Tour event she will have taken part in, having made her Tour debut last year in September at the VP Bank Swiss Ladies Open where she finished tied in 13th.
The trio sits a shot above another three-way tie for second featuring Northern Ireland’s Olivia Mehaffey, Italy’s 24-year-old Alessandra Fanali, and Denmark’s 24-year-old Sofie Kibsgaard Nielsen, who are tied on 3-under par, 70.
Seventh place features a two-way tie between Aunchisa Utama from Thailand and Diksha Dagar from India who are both on 2-under par, 71. Another seven-way tie on one-under-par, 72, closes a crowded top ten after the first round.
It was a challenging outing for the Kenyan amateurs taking part in the event, but Vipingo-based Jacquelyne Walter emerged best of the lot, finishing the round in a tie for 40th place after carding a round of 2-over par 75 to leave her in contention for tomorrow’s cut which will reduce the field to 60 and ties.
Playing in her first Magical Kenya Ladies Open, Kenyan amateur Kellie Gachaga carded a score of 8-over par 81, one behind Naomi Wafula who carded a round of 7-over par 80.
Speaking after her round, Kellie said; “This is my first time playing at the Magical Kenya Ladies Open and I feel very honoured and happy to be representing Kenya. I was a bit nervous going into this, but I am confident in the preparation that I had put in and I just went out there and enjoyed my time and I am happy with that.”
“I think I started off well, I was just cruising, got more confident and I could see that in my golf shots as I was hitting better and better. At the end, I think I just thought about it a little bit too much, had a few hiccups but kept it under control. My dad is on my bag so, he keeps me very level-headed. Not the scores I wanted, but I was happy with my process. Tomorrow I am just going to try and keep the same mentality I had at the beginning and forget about how I have been playing and just finish how I start is – that is my main goal.” she added.
Round two action tees off Friday at 7:45 AM, with the players out to avoid the cut and get into the prize money bracket.
Jacquelyne Walter will be the first Kenyan to tee off at 8:51AM off the first tee. Chanelle Wangari will also get her round going from the first tee, at 12:32 PM, with Naomi Wafula, Mercy Nyanchama and Kellie Wahito Gachaga all teeing off between 1 PM and 2 PM