Rugumayo, Kamulindwa go for jugular

A first cut at the Magical Kenya Open is in the offing for Rugumayo. PHOTO/COURTSEY  

What you need to know:

Work To Do. Rugumayo’s topsy-turvy round of one-over 72 peerlessly stands unmatched whereas Kamulindwa’s shift of five-over 76 is not far off what others have managed before.

MUTHAIGA. Ugandan professionals Ronald Rugumayo and David Kamulindwa are living in different worlds at the on-going 55th edition of the Magical Kenya Open presented by Absa Bank in Nairobi, Kenya.

None had the needed fireworks to burn down the DP World Tour’s venue of action  – the par-71 Muthaiga Golf Club on Day One Thursday. But also both didn’t fare too badly either.

Actually, Rugumayo and Kamulindwa put up the best displays Uganda has ever managed. Rugumayo’s topsy-turvy round of one-over 72 peerlessly stands unmatched whereas Kamulindwa’s shift of five-over 76 is not far off what Phillip Kasozi and Deo Akope managed in yesteryears.

Unfortunately their rounds are far from the requirement at this lucrative $2.5m (Shs9.6b) prize money event as they find themselves tied in 74th and 126th positions for Rugumayo and Kamulindwa respectively from a field of 144 players.

No holding back now

The pair know they must produce some fireworks in today’s decisive round two whose to 70 players plus ties will progress to play on Day Three & Four and forthwith be eligible to partake in the cash-pot sharing. “My game wasn’t bad. I just need to work on my driver. It put me in early trouble. But no one should rule me out. I can shoot five-under tomorrow,” said Entebbe Club’s Kamulindwa.

For Rugumayo, the putting must be better. “Three to four didn’t fall in. I am in a good mental space and I am looking ahead to beyond making the cut.

“I am already looking forward to doing better and flying Uganda’s flag higher,” said the 31-year-old RwandAir, Absa Uganda and Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort & Spa-sponsored Tooro-bred professional.

Van Driel hits front

Darius van Driel continued his fine start to the 2024 Race to Dubai with an opening 66 to take the first-round lead. The Dutchman has two top 10s so far this campaign and while he missed his first cut of the season last time out, a return to Muthaiga - where he has two previous top-12 finishes, including last year - saw him regain his recent form.

An eagle, five birdies and two bogeys moved him to five under, a shot clear of countryman Daan Huizing, Frenchman Frederic Lacroix, Finn Tapio Pulkkanen, German Yannick Schuetz, Scot Connor Syme and South African Ryan van Velzen. "It was pretty solid," said Van Driel.

"I hit a lot of fairways, which you need to do here or you make it very hard for yourself. I holed some nice putts, it went exactly how I wanted to play, so I’m happy."

Day Two is a sure deal to come up with some nice storylines as professionals aim to make the money cut.


Day One Leaderboard - Top 7

1. Darius Van Driel                         (NED)   -5 66

T2. Tapio Pulkkanen                      (FIN)    -4 67

T2. Ryan Van Velzen                      (RSA)   -4 67

T2. Yannick Schuetz                       (GER)   -4 67

T2. Frederic Lacroix                       (FRA)   -4 67

T2. Connor Syme                            (SCO)   -4 67

T2. Daan Huizing                            (NED)   -4 67

T74. Ronald Rugumayo                 (UGA) +1 72

T126. David Kamulindwa              (UGA)   +5 76