Tooro’s Michael Alunga is leading the clubhouse talk at the Uganda Golf Club (UGC) after he assumed a one-shot lead on Day Two of the 79th Tusker Malt Uganda Amateur Open yesterday.
But, most of the focus at the par-72 course in Kitante turns to the men in the paid ranks.
The professionals tee-off in quest for a Shs100m kitty for the 15th Uganda Professionals Open today.
However, Alunga will still carry much attention for a greater part of today after he carded the tournament’s best score thus far of two-under par 70 to tally an aggregate score of 146 gross. “My round was okay though I struggled on some holes,” said a rather confident Alunga.
The national team player rose from a joint-11th place on Day One with six birdies on Holes par-5 No.1, par-4 No.2, par-3 No.4, par-4 No.10, par-3 No.11 and par-5 No.13.
He had begun on the back nine and by the time reached the tee-box of the par-4 No.7, he was five-under for the day only to card a double-bogey there, like on par-4 No.18, and then a bogey on par-5 No.8.
“I was disappointed because I had a bad club selection,” said the young lad in his early 20s.
But Alunga hopes to recover today. “I will just play my normal game. My target is to play level and below. I play the course not anyone,” added the scratch player. Alunga is followed by Christopher Baguma, Denis Asaba and Kenyan John Lejirma who made identical level-par 72 rounds are tied on 147 gross following.
Like Alunga, Asaba was five-under for the day (at par-5 No.3) with six holes to go only to bogey Holes No.4, No.6, No.7 and a double-bogey on No.8.
“I am not happy with my score,” reacted Asaba. “I have dropped so many strokes (eight) on par-5s over two days. Tomorrow (today), I am coming for the par-5s. If I do that, I can definitely win the Open,” added the Tooro Club player.
Meanwhile, 22-year-old Baguma’s birdies on Holes No.3, No.5 and No.8 were cancelled out by bogeys on Holes No.4, No.6 and No.7. “If all goes well, I want to get to 3-under,” he said.
But following the curtain raiser by the ladies last week and two days of the amateurs, the pros are now itching to take the biggest share of the kitty by Tusker Malt.
No Ugandan has won this tournament since Deo Akope in 2014 but following his outstanding display at last year’s Safari Tour Series with 208.5 points, Phillip Kasozi leads the local cast at his home club.
“Of course, I want to win though golf has no home courses,” said Kasozi yesterday. Kasozi has had a flawless streak at this championship, not missing a cut since turning pro in 2015. But after a Covid-19 stricken year, it is hard to call shots yet at this Safari event, a route to the 2021 Kenya Open show, a PGA European Tour event.
“It’s hard to predict anything. I have done my part, waiting to see how it goes. The course isn’t in good shape, it’s a shot for shot. One shot at a time,” added Kasozi.
The small gallery will cheer on several other home pros like former winner Akope, course attendants Brian Mwesigwa and George Olayo, Denis Anguyo among others.
Defending champion Zambian Muthiya Madalisto is keen on winning a third title at this event. He won at Kitante in 2015.
“This is where it all started for me in Uganda, so I am hoping to replicate the result of old by winning or better it score wise,” said Madalisto.
Record five-time champion Dismas Indiza leads the Kenyans here and there is another former champion South African Joshua Seale to repeat his 2016 magic.
UGANDA AMATEUR OPEN
DAY TWO LEADERBOARD - TOp 10
1. Michael Alunga (UGA) 76 70 146
T2. Chris Baguma (UGA) 75 72 147
T2. Denis Asaba (UGA) 75 72 147
T2. John Lejirma (KEN) 75 72 147
T5. Joseph Cwinyaa (UGA) 73 75 148
T5. Rodell Gaita (UGA) 73 75 148
7. Joseph Kasozi (UGA) 72 78 150
8. Grace Kasango (UGA) 75 76 151
T9. Marvin Kibirige (UGA) 80 72 152
T9. Adel Balala (KEN) 76 76 152