Barclays enters Challenge Tour fray

Barclays has announced a three-year title sponsorship of the Kenya Open, the longest-running event on the European Challenge Tour schedule.

The Kenya Open joined the European Tour feeder circuit in 1991, and will be played March 31-April 3 at Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi.

Previous winners of the 190,000 euro event include 2007 champion Edoardo Molinari of Italy, who after topping the Challenge Tour rankings in 2009 ran up two victories in Scotland, at the Johnnie Walker Championship and the Barclays Scottish Open in 2010.

The London-based multinational bank already is one of the most visible title sponsors on the PGA and European tours. Barclays backs The Barclays, the PGA Tour’s first FedEx Cup event, and the European Tour’s Singapore Open and Scottish Open.

“Barclays recognizes the power of sport to connect with customers and consumers from diverse backgrounds,” said Adan Mohamed, Barclays Kenya’s managing director. “We have been involved in developing professional leagues such as the Barclays Premier League in England and more recently cycling here in Kenya, and are committed to promoting excellence in the game of golf.”

Barclays Kenya said it will work closely with Kenya Open Golf Ltd. in running golf clinics, and identifying other ways of creating opportunities for local players to hone their skills and encourage novices to take up the game.

Last year’s event was historic for Kenyan golf as Ali Kimani, a Nairobi native, held the halfway lead. Kimani finished T-24 in the event won by England’s Robert Dinwiddie, who graduated to the European Tour in 2010.

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