Chinese expatriate Peng Wei Xue exorcised a five-year winless spell on a historic day when a record 230 golfers took the par-72 Uganda Golf Club (UGC) Kitante course to win his first ‘major’ at the Captain’s Prize tournament on Saturday.
The day truly belonged to outgoing captain Jackson Karyarugookwe, who took over the reins at a time the club was struggling and even members not shying away from playing the blame game.
But Peng, playing off handicap 19, made sure he was a perfect anecdote to the captain’s swansong with a round of 60 nett to upstage the full house by five strokes at the two-day event that also had 29 professionals grit it out over 36 holes for a Shs8m kitty.
“I worked a lot on my game during the Covid period. Now these are the fruits,” said Xue who has been in Uganda for 15 years and had no other victory to show apart from a men’s Group B runner-up finish at last year’s Uganda Open in the subsidiary category.
Peng won a trophy and weekend for two at Moses Turyatemba’s Trackers Safari Lodge in Bwindi – prizes that were also scooped by the overall women winner Rose Azuba with near perfect return of 64 nett.
Peng showed true sportsmanship by saluting his playing foursome mates.
“The weather was good but most importantly the guys I played with returned good scores and picked some prizes, too. I rubbed off their good games. I will try to win again in future,” added Peng, who played alongside Charles Kareba, Ben Wacha and Chirag Kotecha (second runner-up men’s Group C with 67 nett).
Group C winner Fan Chen, with 65 nett on countback, came with women Group B winner Aidah Khamisi and women Group C’s best Charity Opolot not far off the pace with similar returns of 66 nett.
But Karyarugookwe, one who was looked at as one from yesteryear’s generation and quietly given no chance to deliver when he came into office, proved he was from a school of hard knocks with strategy, projects and idealistic tweaks in the new implementations.
“This is a special day in the life of this club,” said the senior golfer with the full gallery at the 19th hole applauding.
“We missed the opportunity to celebrate last year because of Covid-19 but we are here to celebrate a very eventful term of office. Yes, we had hitches but we have also been successful.
“Thanks to our sponsors, friends of the captain and members who have been very supportive in every endeavour we undertook,” Karyarugookwe said.
“The development committee is already working to ensure the club is of world class status. 50 per cent of the members subscription fees have been banked on a separate account and we currently have Shs325m that cannot be touched without the approval of the Board of Trustees.
“This money is for the club’s projects some of which you already enjoying. The membership has already picked up and we have 368 fully paid-up members.”
To underscore the efforts of the outgoing captain, his friends including a social group at UGC – Gudlife - and Bank of Uganda Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile undertook the burden on the day to cater for the local professionals’ prize money and some of the day’s other logistics.
Karyarugookwe will officially hand over office on March 27 after the elective Annual General Meeting and with another senior Patrick Billy, unopposed, lined up to take over the mantle, UGC members can start believing more heady days beckon.
Oryx Energies, Game Stores, Kampala Serena Hotel, Smile Telecom and Appliance World, among others, co-sponsored the event.
UGC Captain's prize
M: Peng Wei Xue 60 nett
W: Rose Azuba 64 nett
Group Winners – Men
A: Andrew Opio 68 nett
B: Okello Ocero 66 c/b
C: Fan Chen 65 c/b
Group Winners – Women
A: Lydia Mutesi 67 nett
B: Aidah Khamisi 66
C: Charity Opolot 66
M: Sam Byagagaire 69 nett
W: Monica Ntege 71
M: Moses Muhwezi 65 nett
W: Josephine Babirye 72
M: Paul Rukundo
W: Martha Babirye
Nearest to the Pin
M: Mark Namanya
W: Peace Kabasweka
Rebecca Nampamba 94 nett
Professionals – Top Five
1. Abby Bagalana 69 72 141*
2. Becca Mwanja 68 73 141
T3. Phillip Kasozi 73 69 142
T3. Herman Mutebi 71 71 142
5. Deo Akope 71 72 143
*Won by sudden death playoff on Hole No