Defending champion Ronald Otile returned to the title conversation in style after he fired a course record of 68 whereas Kenyan Simon Njogu did just enough to maintain the lead after Day Two of the 78th Castle Lite Uganda Amateur Open at Kigo yesterday.
As a tide of waves swept through the 100-man field, three-time winner Otile almost met his day’s target of -6 as he carded a round of four-under at the par-72 Lake Victoria Serena Resort & Spa course.
“I worked on my putting last evening and I was ready to challenge the course today,” the ever calm yet confident Otile told this paper yesterday. The 2015, 2016 and 2018 Open winner is a fighter. For Ronald Rugumayo to beat him in 2017 at Kitante, Otile only had to lose on the last hole of a three-hole sudden-death play-off. Even last year, he came from six shots down on the final day to defeat Kenyan John Karichu in Entebbe and reclaim his gong. If anything, the ‘Tiger Woods’ many see in him, could have switched on already.
On Wednesday, Otile carded nine bogeys, a double bogey and the one birdie appeared odd in an opening round of 82 to tie at 10-over, 13 shots behind the leader Njogu. The US-based lad did not put his head down. Otile returned with a round christened with seven birdies on Holes No. 2, 3, 6, 8, 13, 14 and 17. “My putting worked today and that’s where the challenge was yesterday (Wednesday).”
His round could have been better but got three bogeys after a mistake on the green of par-3 Hole No.4, hitting the water on the left on par4 Hole No.12 when his ball rolling for par just kissed the mouth of the cup on par-3 Hole No.16.
By the end of business yesterday, Otile had risen from 42nd place to 16th, to 11th and finally settled at eighth on the leaderboard with an aggregate score of 150 gross after two rounds. “I want to maintain and play better tomorrow (today) than today (yesterday),” exuding optimism, Otile added.
After moving 34 places up, he is the second best Ugandan now behind bookmakers’ favourite Joseph Cwinyaai.
Cwinyaai improved on his display by three shots after carding a Day Two round of one-over 73 which included recovery from a double-bogey on No.12 and bogeys on Holes No.10, 14 and 18 with a sweet eagle on par-4 No.8 and birdies on par-5 No.2 and par-3 No.7.
“I will keep improving as the tournament progresses,” stated Cwinyaai who rose six positions up to joint-sixth place with Kenyan Zubair Khan at 149 gross.
However, Njogu, who carded 69 on Day One, is still in the lead with 144 gross after he carded three-over 75.
“My round was not that bad but I made some mistakes,” said the 31-year-old. His round had four bogeys on Holes No.3, 4, 8 and 14 with only a birdie on the 17th green to smile about.
“I had problems with my club selection and there was a bit of wind,” Njogu noted. “The pin positions were challenging and I missed a lot of birdies. I can try go under again,” he added.
The Kenyans are not about to let go as Njogu is followed by counterparts Daniel Nduva, Samuel Njoroge and William Odera.
UGANDA AMATEUR OPEN
DAY TWO LEADERBOARD - TOP 10
1. Simon Njogu (KEN) 69 75 144
T2. Daniel Nduva (KEN) 75 70 145
T2. Samuel Njoroge (KEN) 73 72 145
4. Peter Rimui (KEN) 71 76 147
5. William Odera (KEN) 75 73 148
T6. Joseph Cwinyaai (UGA) 76 73 149
T6. Zubairi Khan (KEN) 75 74 149
8. Ronald Otile (UGA) 82 68 150
T9. Denis Asaba (UGA) 76 75 151
T9. Michael Kisia (KEN) 76 75 151
T9. Emmanuel Jakisa (UGA) 76 75 151
T9. Joseph Victor (TAZ) 75 76 151