Mutahi Kibugu sets higher goals after previous success at Magical Kenya Open

Friday, February 23rd, 2024 03:00 | By
Mutahi Kibugu sets higher goals after previous success at Magical Kenya Open
Kenya’s Mutahi Kibugu follows his tee shot during the MKO Pro Am on Wednesday at Muthaiga Golf Club. PHOTO/ ALEX NJUE

Mutahi Kibugu is setting himself higher goals ahead of his third appearance in the Magical Kenya Open this week as he gets ready to enjoy another family affair on home soil.

One of 13 Kenyan players in the field – which includes four amateurs – Mutahi is hopeful that he can build on his performance last year, where he sent the supportive home crowds into a frenzy with a closing birdie in the second round to safely become the sole Kenyan to make the cut.

It was his second appearance in the event, having competed for the first time as an amateur in 2019, but he missed the cut in that edition.

“I watch videos even now and still get a buzz. It was an amazing thing. I hope to make plenty more memories this year,” he said.

“When the DP World Tour first came to Kenya in 2019 I played as an amateur. I really enjoyed that moment at Karen Country Club. That was my first experience of something as big as this. I hold that close to my heart. I’m a way better player than I was at that time, also more mature.”

Since last year’s tournament he played his first DP World Tour event outside of Africa at last year’s Porsche European Open, and while he missed the cut there, he is confident that the learning experience he’s had has only made him a better player this time around.

With that comes loftier expectations of a number he’d like to post, which he hopes would help him achieve his goal of a top ten at Muthaiga GC.

“I have higher goals than last year, that’s for sure. I think I’m an all-round better player than last year. I’ve had some big tournament exposure. I have a number in my mind that I want to play over the four rounds, so we’ll see where that ends up over the week. If I could make a top ten I’d be ecstatic.”

Mutahi is guaranteed plenty of support when he tees up this week, not only in the form of family and friends, but in younger brother Njoroge, who is also competing.

The younger Kibugu brother made waves of his own in this event in 2022 when he made the cut as an amateur, and Mutahi noted that the support and competitive push they give each other adds to how much this tournament means to both siblings - and how much it personally lifts him on the course.

“It’s really nice that we are both doing this as professionals. He turned pro after the Kenya Open last year. It helps us know that we’re doing good and we’re supporting each other all the way. I think we’re both going to do well this year. We’re competitive but we push each other – it’s great to have that. We support each other all the way. It’s going to be fun.

“It helps keep me up, keeps me enjoying things on the golf course. Even if I hit a poor shot I have plenty of support, so my head goes right back up. My Dad is out there watching me, it makes me feel like I’m not on the world’s stage, just that I’m playing another round. My bigger brother, my sister, younger brother who is in the tournament as well and my Mum and Dad will be with me.

“It feels great. It’s my home and all my friends and family are watching me. I’m playing with some of the best players on the planet, the fact I’m doing that at home is amazing. It’s a special week for me.”

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