Dismas Indiza and homeboy Deo Akope don’t need any introduction in East African golf.
The pair are not only as old as the Uganda Professional Golfers Association (UPGA) body, which was founded in 2005, but have also boast of an enviable nine Uganda Open titles together.
Akope won a hattrick as an amateur (2000-2002) and his trophy-cabin has a special enclave with two titles as a professional that he notched in 2006 and 2014.
For Mumias Sugar’s Indiza, he has four to his name; all of them coming in pairs with the first double nailed in 2007 and 2008 whereas the latest was scooped in 2011 and 2012.
And after a two-year lull, without any of them making a statement at the arguably the most lucrative and prestigious golfing showpiece in Uganda, the pair shed some skin by reminding the region that they’re still the poster boys of the game.
Teeing off at different times, Indiza and Akope returned to the clubhouse of the par-72 Uganda Golf Club (UGC) Kitante course with similar returns of three-under 69 to enjoy a share of the lead by two strokes.
Both started their hunt for the Shs902,000 top prize like a house on fire. They matched each other for birdies; each finishing with four-of-a-kind on the front nine.
And whereas Akope endured a double-bogey and a bogey on the back nine, Indiza’s three bogeys helped them finish all-square with each managing to sink a pair of birdies.
“I like it when it is wet,” Indiza, who sank a total of six birdies on No.1, 3, 5, 8, 13 and 14, offered after many professionals were left groveling and playing the blame game, after the mid-morning rains threw a spanner in their works.
“I even shanked but that’s the game. I am happy, I played three-under. It could have been better but my score is okay. I am going to stay positive because I know anything can happen in the next rounds,” the 49-year-old added in reference to the bogeys he suffered on No.12, 17 and 18.
For Akope, it was all about consistency going into the next round. “The round was good. I was five under while teeing off on No.15. But I left two shots; one on No.15 because I was trying to be a little more cautious and another on No.16 where I shot bogey.
"That was my undoing, I must try to remain focused and stay in contention,” said the 37-year-old UPGA captain.
With Kenya fielding a strong contingent of 36 professionals, Indiza ended the day with three other countrymen in the top 10 including Ganeev Giddie Singh (joint fifth) and Mohammed Mandhu, who is tied in seventh with former Kenyan national amateur team coach Brian Njoroge on one-over-par 73.
Today, the filled will be tense with each of the 87 players in the fray fighting to make the all –important cut that is estimated at three-over.
12TH UGANDA PROFESSIONALS OPEN
Top 10 Leaderboard
T1 Dismas Indiza (Kenya) 69
T1 Deo Akope (Uganda) 69
T3 Brian Mwesigwa (Uganda) 71
T3 Phillip Kasozi (Uganda) 71
T5 Stephen Ferreira (Portugal) 72
T5 Ganeev Giddie Singh (Kenya) 72
T7 Mohammad Mandhu (Kenya) 73
T7 Herman Mutawe (Uganda) 73
T7 Grace Ocici Onito (Uganda) 73
T7 Brian Njoroge (Kenya) 73
CAST OF WINNERS
2016: Joshua Seale (RSA)
2015: Muthiya Madalitso (ZAM)
2014: Deo Akope (UGA)
2013: Vincent Byamukama (UGA)
2012: Dismas Indiza (KEN)
2011: Dismas Indiza (KEN)
2010: Jean Baptiste Hakizimana (RWA)
2009: Richard Ainley (KEN)
2008: Dismas Indiza (KEN)
2007: Dismas Indiza (KEN)
2006: Deo Akope (UGA)