What you need to know:
- Back-to-back-to-back. After winning the precursor event at Kitante last weekend, Martha Babirye is confident that she can emulate her idol Flavia Namakula with claim a hat-trick of titles when the 71st Uganda Ladies Open tees-off in Entebbe today.
There was a moment when golf in the country oddly went silent after a lockdown by President Yoweri Museveni was enforced in June.
The fraternity has lost time owing to the ramifications of the coronavirus and Uganda Golf Union (UGU) is now attempting to make the most of the last days of the year to savour something substantial.
So the game will certainly hope to fully regain its mojo when the five-in-one Tusker Malt Uganda Golf Open tees-off with the 71st Ladies Open at the Entebbe course today.
Here, Martha Babirye is once again in the spotlight. The two-time defending champion is looking to seal a rare hat-trick of titles when 74 ladies compete over 54 holes at par-71 course.
“I need it for the third time in a row,” Babirye said this week. Her idol Flavia Namakula is the last player to win back-to-back-to-back gongs in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
And whereas Covid-19 disruptions have limited players’ preparations, Babirye is confident of her groove. On Saturday, after tying on 231 gross over three rounds, she rose again to beat her rival Peace Kabasweka via a sudden-death play-off on the par-4 Hole No.12 to lift the Uganda Golf Club (UGC) Ladies Open title at Kitante.
The former cricketer Babirye had also ‘snatched’ the main Open from Kabasweka’s hands to win by two strokes on the final day in Kitante last November and in 2019, she stunned Irene Nakalembe by one shot at the Lake Victoria Serena Resort in Kigo.
The handicap four player has now smartly changed her tactics to aim to trap the Open at a third different course. “My preparations have been okay so far,” said the 25-year-old. “I have had enough practice rounds in Entebbe and we are all good players this week, whoever plays better will take it,” she added.
But this time, Nakalembe and Kabasweka are looking to improve and claim glory. For Nakalembe in particular, twice a runner-up in 2017 and 2019 as well third in 2016 and 2018, she has gone about her business quietly.
Her warm-up has involved winning the Tanzania Ladies Open in Dar es Salaam and a third straight Ikoyi Ladies Open title in Nigeria over the last one month. “It is good preparation, that’s why I went for it,” remarked Nakalembe upon return from West Africa.
Nakalembe, who won a record sixth straight Entebbe Ladies Open gong in March, skipped the UGC Ladies Open to allow her body rest for the main course at her home ground in Entebbe. “I have practiced enough, I am just waiting for D-day,” she added.
Meanwhile, Kabasweka, who led last year’s Open until the last two holes, believes her better commitment towards every shot will guide her to the top of the leaderboard.
“I am more focused and my determination levels are much better than the past years,” said the Tooro Club player. “I plan to play each hole at a time and also to arrive on regulation,” she added.
Whereas the trio will lead Uganda’s quest, Tanzanian pairing of Iddy Madina and Vicky Elias, Zimbabwean Joyce Chingono and Kenyan Mercy Nyanchama are here to spoil the party.