Rugumayo bittersweet

Swim Or Sink Situation. There is no hiding place for Rugumayo if he wants to shed some skin and refuse to go down the road that other Ugandan professionals have endured after playing in the Magical Kenya Open. PHOTO/SILA KIPLAGAT-NATION

What you need to know:

Getting Basics Right. Rugumayo’s ‘volunteer’ managers Peter Mujuni and Yunus Baale concur that their player must work to seize the few opportunities at his disposal before he becomes a spent force hence their push for the Sunshine Tour card.

There is no professional golfer from the elite entry of 156 that has fielded more interviews than Uganda’s Ronald Rugumayo here at the Magical Kenya Open (MKO) presented by Absa and played at Muthaiga Golf Club, Nairobi.

Rugumayo’s claim to fame is the hole-in-one on the 201-yard par-three No.2 hit sweetly using an eight-iron with a Callaway Chrome Soft X ball on Day One of the prestigious DP World Tour Event.

The 30-year-old didn’t win the BMW X5 at stake for the feat as it had been placed on No.13. But the organisers have already whispered to the Pearl of Africa’s only representative that a consolation prize will be presented to him at Sunday’s closing ceremony that will be attended by former Kenya heads of state and several dignitaries.

It’s a bittersweet moment for Rugumayo, more so, because his playing partners for the first two days; Juan Carlo Ritchie of South Africa (69, 69) and Spain’s Santiago Tarrio (71, 68) marched into weekend with a combined aggregates of four and three under, and will be among the 79 players that made the cut and will forwith have a share of the €1,750,000 (Shs6.b) hefty cash prize.

“The Magical Kenya Open remains alien to us,” confessed Rugumayo after returning scores that would have seen him struggle to make the cut even at the just concluded Safari Tour Series during which he bossed leaderboards enroute to finishing as the second best non-Kenyan and rightfully earn his place at Africa’s big show.

Strangers at home

“This event is played in Africa but I don’t believe its purpose is to promote African golfers – maybe tourism. We are strangers in our own continent. I have been in Kenya for a month but I didn’t even get a chance to play a full practice round at Muthaiga. Only a couple of holes on the front nine; here and there. The organisers give 10 spots to Kenya and it's the hosts that bat an eyelid and give two spots to fight through their own event – the Safari Tour.”

Rugumayo returned seven-over at the back-nine on Day One and four-over on Day Two – something that sort of justifies his cries but there were some ‘hard to envisage’ moments of madness during his rounds.

“Mayo’s decision making and game management was questionable as he bowed out with a below par aggregate of nine-over. He was overzealous to attack and hence forgot our strategy. That left him chasing the game for long spells and brought about the bad breaks,” said one of his volunteer managers Yunus Baale.

Heading to school

“But we have no right to demand much from him. This is his second time to play here (but he also played as an amateur in 2017 when it was still a European Challenge Tour event). What happens for him after here is important. My job is to look for money. He will go back to Uganda for one week before heading to South Africa for Q-School so that he gets the Sunshine Tour card. If playing at this stage becomes his routine, he won’t fidget as much as he has done here.” chipped in Peter Mujuni.

Only one Kenyan, the young and entertaining Mutahi Kibugu carries East Africa’s flag after he sank a long birdie-putt on the 18th on Friday to finish three-under and make the weekend.

Veteran Dismas Indiza put in his best shift but missed the one-under cut by three strokes.  But the alien – that is the MKO – didn’t spare the stars, too, as it swallowed up some big fish including past winners Ashun Wu and Lorenzo Gagli.


Only Kenyan Cut

T36: Mutahi Kibugu (KEN) 68, (71 -3)

Score For Ugandan

143: R. Rugumayo (UGA) 76, 75 (+9)


Full Names:  Ronald Rugumayo                              

Born:  December 28, 1992          

Birth Place: Fort Portal, Uganda                            

Parents: Bernadette Kajumba & John Rwabwogo (RIP)                        

Started Golf: 2002                                                                            

National Team: 2010-18 (9 years)                                                                       

World Ranking: 3241                    

2022: 58.1 points - Uganda’s best