It is a public secret that Irene Nakalembe’s prime target is to add the Uganda Ladies Open title to her trophy cabinet.
“Spot on,” she says even after recent close shaves. And that could have lightened her desire for glory at the eighth Castle Lite Entebbe Ladies Open title at the weekend.
After all, she had bagged the championship in the last three years. The handicap three golfer staved off a stiff challenge from the foreign legion to win her fourth straight title by returning 148 gross after 36 holes at par-71 course on Saturday.
“I have been beaten away from home but here I will hang onto this,” remarked home girl Nakalembe in her victory speech shortly after receiving her trophy from Entebbe Municipality MP Rosemary Tumusiime and Castle Lite’s Julian Ssentamu. Nakalembe edged her closest rival Tanzanian Iddi Madina by a stroke following a one-stroke deficit on Day One. “I don’t know where to start,” she said as the Right Said Fred’s hit Stand Up (for the champion) faded.
“I thank sponsors (Castle Lite, Kabalega Lodges and Time Corp Security) and much as I became a champion, I was also the smartest golfer thanks to MSL Logistics.
“I had a good round yesterday but I wasn’t impressed. Madina is a very strong player and you drop a shot at your own risk. Above all, I thank God. I called him on every shot and He guided me over the 36 holes.” Nakalembe added.
She becomes only the second lady to win a championship in Uganda more than three times in a row after legendary Alice Kego won the Uganda Open for a record 12 times between 1981 and 1994.
With the loss to Tanzanian Angel Eaton at last year’s Uganda Open still fresh, Nakalembe had her title defence threatened when Madina took charge of Day One.
On Friday, Madina carded six-over par 77 to lead and Nakalembe was a stroke behind in second.
“I did not think I would get such a score on Day One. When I upped the game on Day Two, Nakalembe was equally hot,” Madina commented.
Nakalembe turned on the mojo on Day Two with three birdies on Holes No.6, 11 and 13. She led Madina by two strokes approaching the final hole, implying that her second bogey of the day on the par-4 No.18 after No.8 could hardly alter the script.
Past champions of Ladies Open
2011: Jasper Kamukama (Ug)
2012: Flavia Namukula (Ug)
2013: Iddi Madina (Tz)
2014: Monica Ntege (Ug)
2015: Irene Nakalembe (Ug)
2016: Irene Nakalembe (Ug)
2017: Irene Nakalembe (Ug)
2018: Irene Nakalembe (Ug)
CASTLE LITE ENTEBBE LADIES OPEN
Irene Nakalembe (UGA) 78 70 148
Iddy Madina (TAZ) 77 72 149
Eva Magala (UGA) 79 77 156
Peace Kabasweka (UGA) 85 79 164
Rose Azuba (UGA) 84 86 170
Silver: Peace Kabasweka 144 (c/b)
Bronze: Moureen Okura 141
Seniors: Peace Mugeye 152
NEAREST TO THE PIN
L: Gertrude Kityo
M: Allan Mboijana
L: Melon Kyomugisha
M: Becca Mwanja