KAMPALA. Irene Nakalembe has the pedigree when it comes to the Entebbe Ladies Golf Open.
She won her record fourth straight title here last year to become only the second lady to win a championship in Uganda more than three times in a row after legendary Alice Kego won the Uganda Ladies Open for a record 12 times between 1981 and 1994.
And that’s no mean feat. Nakalembe is not done yet.
The handicap two player is going for an unprecedented fifth gong when the ninth edition of the two-day Castle Lite-sponsored Open tees-off at the par-71 course today.
“Yes,” Nakalembe declared her intentions. “I am giving it another shot,” said the Entebbe-bred player.
Nakalembe, who also won the inaugural Uganda Golf Club Ladies Open at Kitante last year, still hurts though after her failure to maximize home advantage in Entebbe for a best shot at the elusive Uganda Ladies Golf Open title last September.
She finished third behind eventual winner Tanzanian Neema Olomi and Ugandan Martha Babirye yet in 2017 and 2016, she was a bridesmaid to Tanzanian Angel Eaton and counterpart Flavia Namakula in turn.
However, she hopes to fill her cup of confidence again by emerging top of the leaderboard after 36 holes tomorrow.
“Since the main Open, my golf has been okay, not the best and not the worst. But having touched the trophy before, I know I have a big chance,” she added.
Now contrary to her previous four victories, this edition will probably test Nakalembe most. Her rival package has greatly polished up and bulged over the past few months.
Babirye, who stunned Nakalembe in September, is among them. “Golf is great and at the moment, I am down to handicap four which is amazing,” she said.
“My first target is to participate in it (Open) because I am busy with other things but I will trying to see that I can play the two days,” added the UGC player.
The field has in-form Peace Kabasweka too. The handicap six player won the Entebbe Singleton Challenge with Sheila Kesiime last year and now leads the Tusker Malt Golf Series charts.
Kesiime is an attraction too and so is left-hander Gloria Mbaguta who is always in the title conversation at the clubhouse.
Also, Uganda Ladies Golf Union president Eva Magala remains a perennial contender only that she hasn’t yet fully recovered from the surgery she had in December.
“Let me practice and see. I have not been able to play for sometime,” Magala told Daily Monitor early this week.
She however beat 155 others to win the IBB Ladies Golf Open in Abuja, Nigeria a fortnight ago.
Tanzanian Vicky Elias who finished sixth at the Uganda Ladies Open last year is entered for the event that is set to attract more than 200 players.
Of the Shs32m sponsorship by Castle Lite, there is a Shs6m kitty for professionals who will challenge Namakula in the Lady Pro Challenge tomorrow.
“The Pro Challenge is an add on as we recognize the only lady professional in Uganda in celebration of Women’s Day,” explained Entebbe club lady captain Rita Apell Okot.
CASTLE LITE LADIES OPEN
Irene Nakalembe (UGA) 78 70 148
Iddy Madina (TZ) 77 72 149
Eva Magala (UGA) 79 77 156
P. Kabasweka (UGA) 85 79 164
Rose Azuba (UGA) 84 86 170
Harriet Kitaka (UGA) 85 86 171
Vicky Elias (TZ) 85 87 172
Katy Kabenge (UGA) 91 82 173
Petra Nalwoga (UGA) 87 88 175
Naomi Wakesho (TZ) 85 91 176
2011: Jasper Kamukama (UGA)
2012: Flavia Namukula (UGA)
2013: Iddy Madina (TAZ)
2014: Monica Ntege (UGA)
2015: Irene Nakalembe (UGA)
2016: Irene Nakalembe (UGA)
2017: Irene Nakalembe (UGA)
2018: Irene Nakalembe (UGA)