US-based golfer Ronald Otile’s hopes of returning later this year to play at the 79th Uganda Amateur Open could be dashed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m so disappointed but praying for the best,” three-time Uganda Open champion told this paper via a WhatsApp chat during the weekend.
Otile and six other Ugandans are living cautiously in the state of North Carolina where more than 8,000 cases have been reported.
“If all goes well, I’ll try and make an effort to fly back,” said the man who has won three of the last five Uganda Open editions.
Last year, Otile finished nine strokes behind champion Daniel Nduva of Kenya and tied fifth at the Lake Victoria Serena Resort & Spa, his lowest finish at the Open since winning his first gong in 2015.
The feeling from a big part of the gallery then at the par-72 course in Kigo was that the 23-year-old had outgrown this amateur level.
The Livingstone College student is, however, keen on winning the Open once more.
“For the last time, yes,” he said.
“When I am to come I have to be fully ready for it. When I came last year I had no practice from this side at all.
But at least the second (four-under 68) and third (six-under 66) rounds were magic.”
“My plans were to play most of the Amateur tournaments here. I don’t know if this Covid-19 will end soon and tournaments resume,” he said.
His first outing would be the Carolina Amateur Championship at Keith Hills on May 15-17 but that is not definite.
USA has so registered more than 50000 deaths due to the coronavirus but in North Carolina, restrictions are relaxed.
“It’s not really bad but the schools are to continue with the online classes till next year according to the governor,” said Otile.
And are golf courses still open? “Where we are, yes. We can still practice at Salisbury Country Club. It’s a four-minute drive.”
His best round during the lockdown was two under over a week ago. “Two bogeys and four
birdies. I am doing my best to stay indoors, do my assignments, eat and go golfing when the weather is good.”
Otile lives in company of peers Titus Okwong, Joel Basalaine, Daniel Baguma, Edrine Okwong, Emmanuel Jakisa and Colline Ajidra.