Tears and Cheers as Rai wins 2017 Barclays Kenya Open in her mother's country of birth
That his victory fell on Mother’s Day in the United Kingdom only added to the emotions as both mother and son wept tears of joy.
It was an emotional win for Rai who missed the cut during last year's event at Karen after shooting 77 and 72 to finish in 113th place. On Sunday however he sealed an impressive victory in the country of his mother’s birth and in front of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta who watched Rai’s last four holes in the final round.
“I just don’t’ even know how I am feeling, it is such a great thing after missing the cut last year,’’ Rai said.
That his victory fell on Mother’s Day in the United Kingdom only added to the emotions as both mother and son wept tears of joy, furthermore this was the first time his mother had returned to the country of her birth since she left it in 1970.
“I think I am more excited than him because this is the first time I have come back to Kenya after 46 years,’’ she told a local daily.
Rai mother was born in Mombasa but also stayed in Mlango Kubwa in Nairobi before she left Kenya for England in 1970 at the age of 14 years.
“This is just perfect that my son has won his first title in the country I was born. It’s so great,’’ she added.
The 22yr old soft speaking player who finished seventh in the Joburg Open on February 26, this year, started the day a shot behind third round leader Matt Wallace of England, started the day well picking up birdies at the second, third and fourth holes, dropped his only shot of the day at the sixth.
He picked up his last birdie at the 16th and even after missing a birdie at the home green where over 2000 PGA European Tour card if he does well in the remaining part of the “Road to Oman” series.
Meanwhile President Kenyatta challenged Kenyan golf clubs to open up their courses to more youth in order to improve the uptake of the game among the Kenyan Population.
Kenyatta added that playing golf will also teach the youth vital lessons about honour, good manners, and about patience.
“It is a game that teaches discipline, honour and it is a game that we will like to see more and more of our youth participating in,” he said.
Kenyatta, who presided over the closing ceremony of the 49th Kenya Open at the muthaiga golf club, expressed optimism that the next Kenya Open could be won by a Kenyan youth.
“The fact remains, Ladies and Gentlemen, that we need to do more to open up this wonderful game to our young people,”
As part of government efforts to promote Kenya as a sporting destination, Uhuru promised to work with the stake holders to raise the prize money to USD 1 million (Sh100 million) starting with the next tournament to attract more players to take part in the Kenya Open.
Former President Mwai Kibaki attended the closing ceremony. Also at the ceremony were Cabinet Secretaries Hassan Wario (Sports), Najib Balala (Tourism) and Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero.
Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: