What you need to know:
- Next Time Better. The Ugandan professional who got a package of K.Shs200,000 (Shs6.3m) from Kenya Vision 2030, and is in just his fourth year as a professional finished with 145 but actually topped them because of his stellar but a little-too-late round of two-under 69 as he dropped off on Day Two.
Regional professional golf was laid bare to hang over the past fortnight with the foreign legion storming Muthaiga Golf Club for the Magical Kenya Open presented by Absa Bank and running off with the $2m (Shs7b) hefty cash pot for the European Tour event.
South Africa-based Njoroge Kibugu, a son of former Uganda Golf Club (UGC) captain Daniel Kagwe, didn’t pick any of the prize money since he’s an amateur but showed that East African golf remains a work in progress and the future could bear sprinkles of hope.
Kibugu excited and thrilled in equal measure finishing as the only Kenyan and regional golfer to make the cut with rounds of 70, 66, 73 and 77 for an aggregate of 286 to finish 64th overall.
The famed Safari Tour Series players were all left grassing on home soil as Ashun Wu rallied from four shots behind with a closing shift of six-under 65 to become the first Chinese and Asian player to win the event with a resounding aggregate of 16-under 268 (69, 68, 66 & 65) after four rounds for a sublime four-stroke triumph.
Wu pocketed Shs1.2b for his flawless consistency and Kibugu got President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ‘blank cheque’ sponsorship package for the next DP World Tour event – Belgium’s Soudal Open slated for May 12-15 but it was a case of a another missed opportunity for the East Africa.
The Safari Tour’s invincibles; Robson Chinhoi of Zimbabwe, Paul Chidale of Malawi and Erick Ooko Obura of Kenya had to make do with a joint 92nd place finish after shooting three-over 145 as they missed the cut by three strokes on Day 2. Ugandan professional Ronald Rugumayo, who got a package of K.Shs200,000 (Shs6.3m) from Kenya Vision 2030, and is in just his fourth year as a professional finished with 145 but actually topped them because of his stellar but a little-too-late round of two-under 69 as he dropped off on Day 2. “I had a good experience on debut,” said the 29-year-old Uganda.
“I made mistakes in the first round and improved in the second but it was a little too late.
“I missed the cut on the par 5s. From the eight par 5s I played in two days, I should have been getting birdies at my level as a pro.
“But instead, I just shot a double bogey (No.7 on Day One) and two bogeys (No.18 & No.4) with just one birdie. That was my biggest undoing.”
Rugumayo, who earned his place courtesy of a stellar fourth-place finish at the last Safari Tour event last month, now cringes for more top-notch action.
“We get one-off competitions of this level. Yet it is what we desire to be like those players we admire. I improved on Day Two.
ALSO READ: Rugumayo plans to survive first two days
“But now imagine, I am going back home to zero until April when the Safari Tour comes to Uganda with the Kitante Leg which is also a tad too low compared to European events,” reasoned the 2017 Uganda Open champion.
“These guys play week in, week out. I feel challenged that we don’t have the same chance. The future will look bright if the authorities work to bring big stakeholders with big pockets and big players to the region more often. It is also true we must work on our individual games.”
Rugumayo’s words echo to the farthest corner in the region and hopefully they can sound as an awakening call to the 65 African professionals on the Safari Tour and 30-odd that belong to the Uganda Professional Golfers Association (UPGA).
MAYO AT A GLANCE
Full Name: Ronald Rugumayo
DOB: December 28, 1992
Village: Bukwali, Fort-Portal, Kabarole
Career Highlight: 2017 Uganda
Amateur Open champion
Turned Professional: 2019
Pro Career Wins: 7
Safari Tour Events/Cuts: 8/7
European Tour Events: 1
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Magical kenya open
1. Ashun Wu (CHN) -16 268 Shs1.2b
2.Aaron Cockerill (CAN) -12 272 Shs0.5b
3.Thriston Lawrence (RSA) -12 272 Shs0.5b
4. Hurly Long (GER) -12 272 Shs0.5b
5. David Horsey (ENG) -11 273 Shs290m
64. Njoroge Kibugu (KEN) +2 286 -N/A*
Top Six - Safari Tour Series Players
1. Ronald Rugumayo (UGA) +3 76 69 145
2. Erick Ooko Obura (KEN) +3 72 73 145
3. Robson Chinhoi (ZIM) +3 71 74 145
4. Paul Chidale (MAL) +3 68 77 145
5. Michael Karanga* (KEN) +4 75 71 146
6. Edwin Mudanyi (KEN) +4 75 71 146