Nearly 70 per cent of this year’s Tusker Malt Uganda Golf Open is complete after the 80th Amateur Open wrapped up yesterday.
The five-in-one showpiece at the par-71 Entebbe course began with the 71st Ladies Open where Irene Nakalembe exorcised the demons to win her first trophy after eight attempts.
The in-form Nakalembe made use of the home advantage to become Entebbe club’s first player in history to lift that Major.
Now after the amateurs gave it a show, Entebbe’s pros are equally inspired by Nakalembe ahead of their quest for the Shs100m kitty when the 16th Pros Open tees-off on Wednesday.
The signs showed at the start of this week when Entebbe pro Herman ‘Deco’ Mutebi beat 31 others with an aggregate score of 209 to win the bigger share of the Shs10m kitty at the Uganda Open Prep Event organised by Uganda Professional Golfers’ Association (UPGA).
UPGA captain Deo Akope conjured up the purse from top golf members including Uganda Golf Union (UGU) president Moses Matsiko, Case Medicare’s proprietor Dr. Kato Ssebbaale, UPGA boss Dr. Sam Sejjaaka, Liquid Telecom’s Denis Kahindi, Isaac Nsereko, and Entebbe’s Katogo franchise led by UGU vice-president John Katto.
The pros played 18 holes on Sunday before doing 36 holes on Monday where Mutebi carded five birdies and two bogeys for a final round of three-under 68 to win. That marked Mutebi’s first win since turning pro in 2019.
“Winning the Prep Event means that I am ready for the Open,” said the 25-year-old who will compete at the Pros Open for the third time in a row.
“Considering the fact that we had few tournaments because of the lockdown, the Prep Event helped us all to polish up before this Open,” noted Mutebi.
And the victory, coupled with Nakalembe’s triumph could be pivotal for Mutebi as well as 14 others such as Vincent Byamukama, Saidi Mawa, Akope, Davis Kato, Abraham Ainamani, Martin Ochaya, Robert Oluba, and Henry Lujja who have been bred by Entebbe.
“Nakalembe’s win pushes us to work hard for our club. The club has done so many things. In 2018 as an amateur, I came fourth when the Open was staged here at Entebbe. Today, I am in a good place to compete. Entebbe pros have home advantage and we must make most of it,” he added before going to play nine holes,” Mutebi said.
But they will need to beat the in-form cast of players like Deo Akope who last month won the Nyali leg of the Safari Tour Series in Kenya last month.
Then, Rwenzori Open winner Ronald Rugumayo from Tooro Club has been consistent, rarely missing cuts while Silver Opio can’t be overlooked.
The cluster of players from Uganda Golf Club; Phillip Kasozi, Denis Anguyo, Becca Mwanja, Brian Toolit, the Bagalana brothers Abbey and Hussein, Herman Mutawe, and Joseph Mawejje are equally intent.
The locals will first mingle with the foreign legion of players from Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, at the Pro-Am event whose kitty is Shs46m staked by Absa on Tuesday.
“This follows our rich history of support towards the growth of the game of golf,” said Absa managing director Mumba Kalifungwa.
“The Open, therefore, holds special significance because it not only gives us an opportunity to develop golfing talent by providing a platform through which to showcase their skills, but it also provides amateur golfers an opportunity to play with professionals in the biggest golf tourney in the country,” he added.
Only two Ugandans have won the Pros Open; Akope in 2006 and 2014 as well as Byamukama in 2013.
PAST PRO WINNERS
2020: Robson Chinhoi (ZIM)
2019: Muthiya Madalisto (ZAM)
2018: Dismas Indiza (KEN)
2017: Stephen Ferreira (POR)
2016: Joshua Seale (RSA)
2015: Muthiya Madalitso (ZAM)
2014: Deo Akope (UGA)
2013: Vincent Byamukama (UGA)
2012: Dismas Indiza (KEN)
2011: Dismas Indiza (KEN)
2010: Jean B. Hakizimana (RWA)
2009: Richard Ainley (KEN)
2008: Dismas Indiza (KEN)
2007: Dismas Indiza (KEN)
2006: Deo Akope (UGA)