Hail history-making pro Rugumayo

Rugumayo is the toast of Muthaiga. PHOTO/COURTSEY 

What you need to know:

Scripting A Fairytale. Last year Rugumayo displayed his prowess with the first hole-in-one. As the sun set on Friday evening at Muthaiga Golf Club, he achieved another milestone, becoming the first Ugandan to make a cut at the Shs9.6b event.

At every twist and turn, Nairobi City’s golf-rich amenities are packed with Ugandans. While their annual pilgrimage to Ruto-land for the Magical Kenya Open (MKO) presented by Absa is a tradition, this year’s turnout is unusual.

From Vet Lab Golf Club to Sigona, Karen, and Limuru, Ugandan golfers have been swinging for the entire week, immersing themselves in the high-octane activities of the DP World Tour at the MKO. This year, the numbers have soared to a deafening level, at least doubling compared to previous years. It seems they bravely made the short journey from Entebbe with a premonition that something extraordinary was about to unfold.

Friday fire

On Friday, as a handful of Ugandan natives followed Ronald Rugumayo’s threesome, including New Zealand leftie Sam Jones and Indian Prakasah Chouhan, hole by hole, approximately 60 Ugandan golfers gathered in the scenic Limuru Clubhouse.

After their own rounds, they were glued to a 70-inch television, captivated by the day’s final proceedings, with their fellow countryman aiming to carve his own legacy. The pressure, from Muthaiga to Limuru and even back to Uganda, was palpable with every shot.

Rugumayo’s golf kept everyone on tenterhooks. He, too, lived on the edge, with a flawless round on the back nine, starting with two-under after sinking birdies on No.15 and 18, followed by an inconsistent show on the front nine.

A bogey on the downhill No.1 was followed by two pars and then a birdie on No.4 - a hole that had tormented him on Thursday (72) with a bogey. Hopes of making a dream cut - the first ever for Uganda at the $2.5m (Shs9.6b) event - started to fade when the man nicknamed Mayo double-bogeyed No.5 and 7, going one-over overall.

But history repeated itself. To secure a spot in this Open, Rugumayo had to nail a tricky putt during the Safari Tour Series final leg at Karen. With Ugandans resigned to fate, Mayo, the last hope of the region for a player to make the weekend, however still had some magic up his sleeves.

Show of steel

Amidst stern time-violation warnings from officials, the 31-year-old pumped a driver off the tee box of the final par-4, No.9. His first putt for eagle agonisingly went wide on the left, leaving fans motionless.

With the writing clear on the wall that the Ugandan needed to sink it for a birdie to finish one-under and level par overall to progress, the onus was on Mayo.

On the sloping terrain of the green, the 31-year-old delicately hit it, and it rolled so slowly that Ugandan fans’ eyes almost popped out of their sockets as they watched it almost stop at the right edge of the hole.

But as Mayo sank to his knees, seemingly in a desperate prayer to rue a missed chance, he had unknowingly willed it in, sending fans, journalists, and local officials into a mini-feat of euphoria.

A birdie for the ages and one for a lifetime, sealing Rugumayo and Uganda’s place in the history of the MKO, at one-under 70, as the first Ugandan to make the cut since the tournament’s inception in 1967.

It’s not just the end of 55 years of waiting; it’s also a new world order as Rugumayo carries East Africa’s flag, culminating at No.18’s flying finish today.


Full Names:  Ronald Rugumayo                             

Born:  December 28, 1992         

Age: 31

Birth Place: Fort Portal, Uganda                           

Parents: Bernadette Kajumba & John Rwabwogo (RIP)                       

Started Golf: 2002                                                                           

National Team: 2010-18 (9 years)                                                                      

World Ranking: 2901                   


Day Two Leaderboard – Top 8

T1. Darius Van Driel        (NED) 66 69 135 -7

T1. Tapio Pulkkanen        (FIN) 67 68 135 -7

T1. Connor Syme             (SCO) 67 68 135 -7

T4. Ewen Ferguson          (SCO) 69 67 136 -6

T4. Manuel Elvira             (ESP) 70 66 136 -6

T4. Sam Hutsby               (ENG) 69 67 136 -6

T4. Lorenzo Scalise          (ITA) 68 68 136 -6

T8. Louis De Jager            (RSA) 70 67 137 -5

T8. Joe Dean                      (ENG) 68 69 137 -5

T8. Jesper Svensson        (SWE) 68 69 137 -5

T8. Craig Howie                (SCO) 68 69 137 -5

T8. Tom Lewis                  (ENG) 71 66 137 -5

T8. Lucas Vacarisa           (SPA) 69 68137-5

T8. Deon Germishuys     (RSA) 71 66 137 -5

T8. Frederic Lacroix         (FRA) 67 70 137 -5

T64. Ronald Rugumayo (UGA) 72 70 142 PAR