The 10th international Kazakhstan Open was held Sept. 18-22 at the Zhailau Golf Resort. The jubilee competition is one stage of the European Challenge Tour.
At the opening press conference, Almaty Akim (Mayor) AkhmetzhanYesimov congratulated all those present on the upcoming celebrations for the day of the city. He added, “I am very pleased that the European golf tournament is held on these days. Ten years ago, at the initiative of the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, we held the first tournament and here we are celebrating a good anniversary.”
General Secretary of the Kazakhstan Golf Federation Konstantin Lifanov announced that the tournament’s purse is $574,566. “This is a record prize fund for our competition and the highest bracket for the European Challenge Tour. One hundred thirty-two participants will be on the golf course and after two qualifying rounds, 65 golfers will remain in the main competition. The decisive matches will be held on Saturday and Sunday,” he said.
Bakhtiar Agabeyov, director of the golf resort, welcomed all the journalists to the site, stating, “I have no doubt that you, having worked creatively on the Kazakhstan Open, will be able to convey to the readers and viewers the sharp twists and turns of our competition and the beauty of the courses. It will promote and popularise the sport in Kazakhstan and help its further advancement.”
This year’s Challenge Tour has a record number of championship names who have returned to Kazakhstan, including Kazakhstan Open winners Mark Pilkington (2006), Gary Lockerbie (2008), Alvaro Velasco (2010) and Scott Henry (2012).
The winner of the tournament at 13 under par was Englishman Sam Hutsby. His compatriot, Andrew Johnston, who ranks second on the Challenge Tour, took advantage of great weather on Saturday and had a magnificent round, jumping from 32nd place after two rounds to second place at nine under par.
Over the years the Kazakhstan Open has become one of the top tournaments on the European Challenge Tour and a real birthplace of stars of the golf world. Agabeyov added that, “It is no exaggeration to say that the Kazakhstan Open is considered as one of the trademarks of our country.”
Last year’s tournament was held at the Nurtau Golf Resort. Both courses meet international standards. Another will soon open in the Talgar area. With two courses in the city, as well as those in Kostanai and Saryagash, Kazakhstan is home to eight professional golf courses.