Monday August 11 2014

Kasango scoops Onito Memorial Open title

Kasango plots the next move during the Onito

Kasango plots the next move during the Onito memorial on Sataurday. PHOTO BY EDDIE CHICCO 


Seven-footer Grace Kasango towered over everyone to win the eighth edition of the Castle Lite Onito Memorial Golf Open title by five strokes on Saturday.

It was hard to ignore the 18-year-old’s dominance as he dictated pace from Day One with a round of level -par 72 that comprised of five birdies.

On the final day, he conquered an eagle on the par 5 No.3 to keep the chasing pack of Joseph Mawejje (154) and close pal Abbey Bagalana (157) at bay with a closing round of 77 for an unmatched aggregate of 149.

And as Kasango made his way to the podium, the deafening cheers he received from the 19th hole were a testimony of the pride he gives to Jinja Golf Club (JGC) members as a rookie golfer with lots of promise.

“This is my first ever major win,” said the first year BBA student at MUBS Nakawa, in a joyful tone, soon after receiving his trophy and fridge from Castle Lite Brand Manager Timothy Kayondo.

Previously, the handicap five golfer’s trophy cabinet had two group A runners up gongs at the 2008 Onito Open, 2013 Tororo Open with the latest honour being a member of the all-conquering Western team that recently won a 17th Inter Regions tournament also hosted by JGC.

“This should be the start of many good things for me. I would like to thank the club committee for all the work they’ve done to revive the game in Jinja and encouraged all of us youngsters to play. The course is also in perfect shape and the greens were good which helped my game.”

Family ‘affair’
But the night was all about merry making. Amidst the fun, Uganda Professional Golfers Association (UPGA) captain Deo Akope made an emotional speech when called upon to pick the Shs8m kitty for the money-spinning category that was won by Jinja-bred Fred Wanzala by two shots.

“Playing in the Onito Open brings many bittersweet memories for me. The late Sadi Onito was like my father and Charles Yokwe was my brother, best friend and playing partner.

We won so many games for Uganda,” said the man regarded as the best golfer in Uganda, in a speech that had family members and golfers fight back tears in vain.

Akope, who finished second in the professionals category, went a notch further when he offered half of his prize money to the late’s family and pledged more on behalf of UPGA.

As is the norm every year, Kayondo gave the widow Shs2m cash with the other Shs2m sent to be cashed out tomorrow. The tournament is played in the memory of legendary Onito (passed on in 2005) and his son Yokwe (2006), who won 12 and two Uganda Open titles respectively.

Professionals - Top 8
Fred Wanzala 70 72 142
Deo Akope 74 70 144
George Olayo 73 72 145
V. Byamukama 70 76 146
Brian Toolit 73 75 148
Grace Ocici 75 75 150
Opio Onito 74 76 150
Said Mawa 74 76 151
Amateurs - Final Leaderboard
Grace Kasango 72 77 149
Joseph Mawejje 80 74 154
Abbey Bagalana 79 78 157
Becca Mwanja 77 81 158
Ismail Mahmood 79 71 158
Deco Mutebi 81 78 159
Group winners (men) Points
A: Sam Kakungira 41
B: Ramathan Shaban 37 c/b
C: Kemisi Lutajani 43
Group winners (women)
A: Betty Alikyogera 39 points
B: Sharon Asiimwe 40
Longest Drive
M: Sam Kachungira
W: Betty Alikyogera