Deo Akope, the Uganda Professional Golfers Association (UPGA) captain, is a true testimony of longevity. Since forming the UPGA in late 2005, Akope remains the mainstay long ranger on the international circuit.
Although his returns have been indifferent, Uganda’s No.1 professional golfer has refused to give up on his dreams of making it as a Challenge Tour Pro.
And after a horrific show at the 2014 Barclays Kenya Open at Karen Country Club in Nairobi in February, Akope has headed to Lusaka for the Zambia Open looking to re-ignite his 2014 golfing season.
“I always believe I can do well,” said the 36-year-old golfer.
“I am ever grateful to MTN Uganda, who have stuck by me and made it financially possible for me to rub shoulders with the continent’s best players and help my game continue growing.”
The Yellow Marine, yesterday, made a bow in the Zambia Open Pro-Am, shooting a four-over-par 76 at the Lusaka Golf Club.
“This is my fifth time here. I was talking it easy. I didn’t want to do what I did in the Kenya Open Pro Am where I sunk eight birdies and failed to get them during the main event,” said Akope.
“I made the cut here in 2007 and 2011. I finished 25th and 26th respectively then. I missed it in 2010 and 2012 but I am optimistic I can play well this week. I have been here since Monday trying to master the course.”
At the Lusaka course, Akope’s short game will be tested fully as the greens are very bad and too bumpy because Daily Monitor has learnt it was top dressed late. A cash pot of R1.2m (an estimated Shs300m) is at stake for the professionals who make the cut after two rounds (36 holes).
The tournament is part of the lucrative Sunshine Tour and tees off tomorrow. This is the first of eight international events which Akope intends to take part in this year including the Mena Tour in the Middle East, Rwanda Open in July, Uganda Open, KCB Circuit, Namibia Open and Nigeria Open.
Elsewhere on the local scene, handicap five golfer Solo Kego won his first Mug of the year at the May meet with a stunning round of 66 nett on Saturday. Kego’s closest challenger in the men’s elite Group A Abbey Bagalana (74) was eight strokes off the pace.
MTN MAY MONTH
Group winners (men)
A: Solo Kego 66 nett
B: Fernandez Nesta 70
C: Sam Nahamya 68
D: Andrew Muhwezi 72
Group winners (ladies)
A: Katy Kabenge 73 nett
B: Karanja Ntambi 64
Full name: Deogratius Akope
Date of Birth:
October 10, 1979
Won three Uganda Open Amateur titles
Education: Studied Civil Engineering at Kyambogo University
Love Life: Married: to Akope Sylvia since November 17, 2012
Career Prize Money: ZAR 19,012.50 (Shs4.5m)
Best Single Prize Money: ZAR 11,700.00 (Shs2.8m)