Peace Kabasweka did not carry the pundits’ favourites tag but was rather a contender going into the 70th Tusker Malt Lager Uganda Ladies Golf Open Championship.
And it came as a surprise for some when she carded seven-over 79 to assume a two-shot lead after Day One at the par-72 Uganda Golf Club in Kitante yesterday.
The Tooro Golf Club player returned to the club house at lunch time, perhaps, thinking her score was only good enough to play second fiddle.
But Kabasweka’s opening round emerged as the day’s best score after the elite field of 32 struggled to find its rhythm on the soggy course.
“It was tough especially on the back nine,” Kabasweka told this paper a few moments after her round. “The rough is not in good shape.”
Her day had looked bright when she crossed the first nine with just two-over after bogeys on par-4 Holes No.2 and No.7 and then carded a birdie on par-4 Hole No.10.
But she registered double-bogeys on Holes No.11 and No.14 as well as bogeys on No.13 and No.15.
The handicap five player is intent on keeping atop the leaderboard today. “I have to make sure I play the fairways,” she added.
Kabasweka is ahead of pre-tournament favourites Irene Nakalembe and defending champion Martha Babirye, who are tied on nine-over 81 in second place.
“Relatively, I played okay,” defending champion Babirye said before contradicting herself.
“However, I think I played badly. I missed about six birdie chances.”
Babirye, who braved the rain while on the fairway of par-4 No.14, registered bogeys on Holes No.6, No.8, No.11 and No.13.
Earlier, she had picked a birdie on Hole No.2 before struggling with the bunker and slippery tee-box mishaps on Hole No.2 and Hole No.7 respectively.
It even worsened at the finish when she got to both bunkers on par-4 No.18 and had to wrap up with a triple-bogey.
“I have to get better and I know I can do it tomorrow (today),” she added.
Meanwhile, like Babirye, Nakalembe thought the Open was out of her hands, upon handing in her scorecard. “I thought I had dropped everything yet I am still holding everything,” she smiled with relief.
“I failed to reach the fairways at most of the holes and that’s where problems came from.”
The record six-time Entebbe Ladies Open champion’s only birdie of the day came at the 18th green after enduring eight bogeys and a double-bogey on No.11.
“My heart is still intact and God is still with me. The course is not in good shape but I will improve by avoiding the roughs. It is very hard to pick the ball from the long grass,” added Nakalembe.
TUSKER MALT LAGER UGANDA LADIES OPEN
DAY ONE LEADERBOARD
1. Peace Kabasweka (UGA) 79
T2. Irene Nakalembe (UGA) 81
T2. Martha Babirye (UGA) 81
4. Judith Komugisha (UGA) 82
T5. Evelyne Asiimwe (UGA) 83
T5. Eva Magala (UGA) 83
T7. Gloria Mbaguta (UGA) 84
T7. Harriet Kitaka (UGA) 84
T9. Mackline Nsenga (UGA) 87
T9. Resty Nalutaaya (UGA) 87