Kampala- Someone should hurry in real quick time to give Innocent Kihika, the vice-president of Uganda Golf Union (UGU) and Tournament Director of the just concluded Uganda Golf Open Championships, a pat on the back.
There were many positives to pick from the coveted showpiece. Together with his team, they delivered a month of riveting golf action with few, if there were any, qualms.
New champions Tanzanian beauty Angel Eaton (Ladies), Ugandan sensation Ronald Rugumayo (Amateur) and Portuguese elite Stephen Ferreira concurred that this was their best-ever tournament to take part in after their respective events.
And justifiably so. Many a winner can ever fault a championship they’ve just won. And although 15 Ugandan professionals made the cut to earn a slice of the Shs145m cash pot, it remains a drop in the ocean.
The Kenyans, 19 of them made the money cut, took the lion’s share of the hefty cash purse with Ferreira, Zimbabwean Tongoona Charamba and 2016 winner Joshua Seale of South Africa.
Looking back, the Ugandans will feel they did not do enough on the home course and in-front of their partisan fans. The less said about their mental toughness and fitness at the big stage, the better.
But Ferreira deserved all the plaudits after that jaw-dropping round of six-under-par 66.
His mettle was awe-inspiring. Having started with a round of 76 in the Pro-Am, the Portuguese star-man shot level-par 72 to finish fifth on Day One and then managed one-under-par 71 on Day Two to climb into second – three strokes off the pace set by early bird Dismas Indiza of Kenya.
But he erupted like a volcano on Day Three and took advantage of Indiza’s worst return of 75 to open up a six-shot margin at the top of the leaderboard.
The 25-year-old Ferreira sank seven birdies after 10 holes of play to edge into the lead. And by then the course record was as good as gone with the wind. But a spate of bogeys on the par-4 No.16 and par-3 No.17 plus a double-bogey on the difficult No.12 ensured history isn’t rewritten – for now.
But he still showed his game intelligence by managing three birdies on the back nine to finish with 10 on the day. His final round of level-par 72 wasn’t as sparkling but the hard work had already been done a day before as he finished with an aggregate of seven-under-par 281 to win only his third ‘Major’ professionals title.