For all her shortcomings at other tournaments, especially the Uganda Ladies Golf Open, Irene Nakalembe has always found her way to the Entebbe Ladies Golf Open crown.
She has won it on all occasions since 2015 for now a record six times. One can equate her dominion to tennis icons Novak Djokovic at the men’s Australian Open title or Rafael Nadal at the French Open.
Whereas Alice Kego (with a record 12 Uganda Ladies Open titles) is the only other lady to boss a golf championship like Nakalembe in this land, sport hates dominance. The barricades across the mental, physical and luck aspects that come with that are what Nakalembe must parry away in order to lift a seventh straight title over 36 holes at the 11th edition beginning today at the par-71 Entebbe course.
The task may be huge but the handicap four player’s plan is simple though. “Same practice as I have done the last six times,” Nakalembe said early this week. Rolling back the years to 2015, she has beaten the field by five, three, one, nine, two and two strokes in that order. The Arsenal FC fan doesn’t want to look into history much.
“All I want is a win, I don’t mind the margin,” she said. “I have done nothing special in preparations, just normal practice,” Nakalembe added.
Notwithstanding the lull that the coronavirus pandemic and recent Presidential Elections have brought, Nakalembe faces a rather determined field.
A field of more than 40 players will seek to challenge her including two-time Uganda Ladies Open defending champion Martha Babirye and Tooro’s darling Peace Kabasweka.
Kabasweka, who tied third with Eva Magala at Entebbe last year, lost the steam with four holes to go to lose the lead and surrender the Uganda Open title to Babirye at Kitante last November.
But there is 2013 Entebbe Ladies Open champion Tanzanian Idd Madina to watch too. Madina arrived in the country on Wednesday and the Arusha Gymkhana Club player is intent on repeating her act of eight years ago.
“My plan is to do the same, no other options,” the handicap four player noted. Madina has not played in Uganda since finishing fifth at the 2019 Uganda Ladies Open won by Martha Babirye at the Lake Victoria Serena Resort.
However, she has played at Entebbe several times and with knowledge of the lately hot conditions, Madina has a strategy.
“I have my strategy I always use when playing in hot weather so I am already prepared for it,” she added.
Besides Madina, another foreign entry Kenyan Mercy Nyachama who came second to Nakalembe last year, is another to watch as Entebbe Club tees-off its year-long 120th anniversary celebrations.
Dates: March 5-6
Venue: Entebbe Golf Course
Field: 150 (80 ladies)
Sponsors: NCBA Bank, Roke
Telecom, Britam Insurance,
Gately on the Nile, Uganda
AT A GLANCE
Full names: Irene Nakalembe
Started playing: 2008
Home club: Entebbe Golf Club
Family: Mother of Two (Erika and
Work: Financial Advisor at CIC
Favourite club: Arsenal FC