Rugumayo tops in year of first timers

Ssekibejja won the Uganda Open. PHOTO/EDDIE CHICCO 

What you need to know:

Kabasweka meanwhile had won every other major piece of silverware; the Entebbe Ladies Open in March, the Uganda Golf Club (UGC) championship plus the UGC Ladies Open title.


Even with few tournaments and kitties allocated, Uganda Professional Golfers’ Association (UPGA) rarely gets that stand-out player across a calendar year.

But for the first time in a long while, Ronald Rugumayo deserves plaudits. He has this year raised the UPGA flag further and surely deserves the crown for the country’s best golfer this year.

In the past, there have always been some standout names in the amateur ranks. But, with Joseph Cwinyaai holding back on his decision to turn pro, the national team captain wasn’t as sharp as last year.

Stellar Rugumayo

Probably his counterpart Kenya-based Michael Alunga has picked up more flowers in 2022. Yet for the ladies, with the departure of Irene Nakalembe to the paid ranks, Peace Kabasweka, Martha Babirye, Meron Kyomugisha, Gloria Mbaguta and Mackline Nsenga shared the silverware on cards.

For the pros, Rugumayo was electric all year. The Fort Portal-bred player actually did not miss a cut at any of the nine local events he played.

Rugumayo retained the Equity Rwenzori Open at Tooro Club and also was the best professional at the Uganda Golf Club (UGC) Ladies Open as well as at the White Horse Inn Kabale Open.

The 2017 Uganda Amateur Open champion made top-10 finishes in 11 of the 13 events all year, only missing the cut at the Magical Kenya Open, a PGA European Tour event and at the Zimbabwe Open, which is part of the Sunshine Tour.

The biggest achievement of all was his second-place finish behind Zimbabwean Robson Chinhoi at the Shs100m Uganda Professionals Open by Tusker Malt played at the par-72 Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort & Spa in October.

2022’s Tusker Malt Uganda Golf Championship will go down into history as a landmark six-in-one event that hit high decibel levels never seen before in the region.

October 1st was the dawn with the sixth Uganda Juniors Open teeing off at the serene course in Kigo.

The fairy-tale story of the event was scripted by Mackinnon Masereka of Kilembe Mines Golf Club who tallied an error-free round of two-under par 70 to emerge victorious by two strokes.

The 17-year-old Senior Three student of Excel High School in Kasese played off handicap 7 and was in such ominous form as he cantered to his second victory.

No flash in the pan

His victory paved the way for Babirye to complete her hat-trick of titles in some dominant style at the 72nd Tusker Malt Uganda Ladies Strokeplay Open.

Babirye stormed into an early four-shot clubhouse lead on October 6 which she clung onto to win by five strokes despite a looming threat from Tooro’s Kabasweka before she collapsed in a heap with her final round yielding a below-par score of 13-over 85.

Babirye’s tally of 233 pushed Kabasweka to third place with 241 gross with Kyomugisha ascending into second with 238 after a fine closing round of two-over 74 on October 8.

Ironically, Babirye had arrived in Kigo without form, after struggling in 19th place at the All-Africa Challenge Trophy (AACT) in Tanzania a month prior.

Kabasweka meanwhile had won every other major piece of silverware; the Entebbe Ladies Open in March, the Uganda Golf Club (UGC) championship plus the UGC Ladies Open title.

Her appearance in Kenya got her runner-up position at the Vipingo Ridge Ladies Open and third at the Nyali Ladies Open as well as fourth place at the Mombasa Ladies Open.

The main Open however went to Babirye. The next weekend brought to light the second edition of the Tusker Malt Seniors Open. 

At the end of the 36-hole event on October 15, it was Kenyan engineer John Muchiri that was popping the champagne with a second straight title in his hands after tallying 157 gross to edge Hon. John Byabagambi by one stroke.

Mbarara Sports Club’s Edrae Kagombe scooped the senior women’s title with an aggregate of 191 gross.

Razzmatazz & new celebrations

The 81st Uganda Amateur Open was devoid of the elite rivalry from Kenya but it never disappointed. It turned out to be a reward for the hosting club as Serena Kigo’s favourite son Andrew Ssekibejja clinched the honours with a solid five-shot win.

Ssekibejja was cheered on football-style as he tallied 295 with a final-round of 73 that climaxed with the artisan members lifting him shoulder high on October 22.

He edged surprise challenge Entebbe’s Michael Tumusiime by five strokes while 2021 champion Cwinyaai was a further four shots adrift in third, a tournament which saw minimal attendance by the foreign legion.

However, the case was different for the pros. The pre-amble to the Shs100m cash-rich professionals’ event - The Absa Bank Pro-Am was nailed by South African Joshua Seale who played off a UPGA card and garnered 41 points on October 25.

To wrap it up all in style, Luganda-speaking Chinhoi dived into Lake Victoria and swam at least 200 meters from the 18th green to the docking station of the Venetian Marina at Serena after his final putt.

The free-spirited Chinhoi tore to shreds the Kigo course throughout the 72-hole stroke play event to finish with an unassailable 11-under 277 - 10 strokes better than the joint second-placed pair of Kenyan Simon Ngige and Uganda’s best flag bearer Rugumayo to pocket a lion’s share of Shs21m.

Such was the climax of the 17th Professionals Open on October 29, it had additional razzmatazz with the closing round broadcast live for an appreciative global audience and a 19th hole experience worth the hype.

2022 TUSKER MALT UGANDA OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

THE WINNERS ROTA PER EVENT/EDITION

6TH JUNIORS OPEN:

Mackinnon Masereka (Uganda) 

72ND LADIES STROKEPLAY OPEN:

Babirye Martha (Uganda) 

2ND SENIORS OPEN:

John Muchiri (Kenya) & Edrae Kagombe (Uganda)

81ST AMATEUR OPEN:

Andrew Ssekibejja (Uganda) 

ABSA BANK PRO-AM:

Joshua Seale (South Africa) 

17TH PROFESSIONALS OPEN:

Robson Chinhoi (Zimbabwe)

RONALD RUGUMAYO’S PERFORMANCE CARD

LOCAL EVENTS

Equity Rwenzori Open - Pro winner

Singleton Challenge - 2nd

UGC Captain’s Bell - 4th

UGC Ladies Open - Pro winner

Lira Open - 4th

Uganda Pros Open - 2nd

Kakira Open - 4th

Kenya Day - 5th

White Horse Inn Open Kabale - Pro winner

SAFARI TOUR SERIES

Limuru Leg - 10th

Vipingo Ridge Leg - 5th

MISSED CUT

Kenya Magical Open, Zimbabwe Open
 

72ND TUSKER MALT UGANDA LADIES OPEN

FINAL LEADERBOARD

1 Martha Babirye (UGA)        75 80 78 233

2 Meron Kyomugisha (UGA) 82 82 74 238

3 Peace Kabasweka (UGA)    79 77 85 241

4 Evah Magala (UGA)            80 87 85 252

5 Gloria Mbaguta (UGA)       81 87 86 254

6 Mackline Nsenga (UGA)     89 81 90 260

7 Resty Nalutaaya (UGA)      85 90 87 262

8 Wendy Angudeyo (UGA)   95 85 90 270

T9 Lillian Koowe (UGA)       94 81 97 272

T9 Anne Abeja (UGA)           88 96 88 272

81ST UGANDA GOLF OPEN

FINAL LEADERBOARD
1 Andrew Ssekibejja (UGA)              71 76 75 73 295
2 Michael Tumusiime (UGA)            72 73 80 75 300
3 Joseph Cwinyaai (UGA)                  80 69 78 77 304
4 Godfrey Nsubuga (UGA)                75 77 76 84 312
5 Ibrahim Bagalana (UGA)                77 75 80 81 313
6 Joseph Kasozi (UGA)                      78 73 81 83 315
T7 Titus Okwong (UGA)                   84 80 78 76 318
T7 Reagan Akena (UGA)                   83 78 75 82 318
T7 Edson Kabareebe (UGA)              74 84 84 76 318
T7 Felix Dusabe (RWA)                     75 83 80 80 318
 

17TH TUSKER MALT UGANDA GOLF PROS OPEN

FINAL LEADERBOARD

1 Robson Chinhoi (ZIM)                    69 70 66 72 277

T2 Simon Ngige (KEN)                      75 74 67 71 287

T2 Ronald Rugumayo (UGA)         73 70 67 77 287

4 Greg Snow (KEN)                           74 70 70 76 290

T5 Samuel Njoroge (KEN)                 72 74 72 73 291

T5 Nyasha Muyambo (ZIM)               73 72 71 75 291

T7 Visitor Mapwanya (UGA)          73 77 71 72 293

T7 Celestine Nsanzuwera (RWA)      76 72 68 77 293

T9 David Wakhu (KEN)                    76 76 69 73 294

T9 Phillip Kasozi (UGA)                  75 76 71 72 294

T9 Willy Deus Kitata (UGA)           75 74 75 70 294

T9 Dismas Indiza (KEN)                    72 70 76 76 294

T15 Joshua Seale (UGA)                  79 70 72 76 297

T17 Abraham Ainamani (UGA)     77 75 73 73 298

T19 Brian Toolit (UGA)                   78 74 77 71 300

T19 Silver Opio (UGA)                     76 75 73 76 300

T24 Ibrahim Bagalana* (UGA)       81 70 76 76 303

26 Adolf Muhumuza (UGA)            77 71 74 82 304

T28 David Kamulindwa (UGA)      76 76 73 81 306

30 Rodell Gaita (UGA)                     79 73 73 82 307

T31 Irene Nakalembe (UGA)          80 72 74 82 308

T31 Grace Kasango (UGA)              73 77 75 83 308

T34 Marvin Kibirige (UGA)            80 72 79 78 309

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