Ssekibejja assumes one-shot Day One Uganda Open lead

Day One leader Ssekibejja hits a bunker shot on Hole number 13. PHOTO/EDDIE CHICCO 

What you need to know:

Tutored by Kigo pro Kenyan Boniface Simwa and Flavia Namakula, Ssekibejja must be aware that no player has maintained the early lead to win the Open over the past five editions. Only Ronald Otile led on Day One and eventually won in it in 2016.



Andrew Ssekibejja got a proper introduction to rest of the sport by carding a round of one-under 71 to assume a one-shot lead after Day One action at the 81st Tusker Malt Uganda Golf Open in Kigo on Wednesday.

The handicap four player showed that this year’s title quest over 72 holes will be largely open after he posted a well-controlled display at the par-72 Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort & Spa.

“Not bad, it was fair so let’s wait tomorrow (today) and see,” Ssekibejja said after walking off the windy course.

Ssekibejja first walked into the sport after being lured by his brother to start caddie in late 2016. So after his Senior Six studies at Sserwanga Lwanga Memorial Secondary School in Kalangala, he started off at Kigo in early 2017.

Missed opportunity 

Last year, he made it to the national team set-up and unfortunately missed making the desired four for the Africa Region IV Championships at his home club.

Now with support from his club Serena Kigo and the national team through Uganda Golf Union president Moses Matsiko among other individuals, Ssekibejja has risen.

On Wednesday, he impressed. Ssekibejja only fell over the course after successive bogeys on par-4 Hole No.3 and par-3 Hole No.4. He however sandwiched them with birdies on par-4 Holes No.1 and No.5.

Yet, he also kept his card largely clean, wiping out the bogey stain at par-3 Hole No.15 with two birdies at Holes par-4 No.12 and par-5 No.17.

“I tried to keep my tee-shots on the fairways and not exceed two putts on the greens,” he remarked, “I wasn’t aggressive on the par-5s. I was calm on the par-4s. I kept the approaches close to the holes and even when I got a bogey, I remained calm.”

Pro help 

Tutored by Kigo pro Kenyan Boniface Simwa and Flavia Namakula, Ssekibejja must be aware that no player has maintained the early lead to win the Open over the past five editions. Only Ronald Otile led on Day One and eventually won in it in 2016.

Otile (2017), Kenyans Edwin Mudanyi (2018) and Simon Njogu (2019), Joseph Kasozi at Kitante in 2020 and Reagan Akena at Entebbe last year all led but succumbed along the way.

Returning for Day Two action on Thursday, Ssekibejja’s goal is however written out. “I have even told my sponsors that I want to make the top five. I want to remain focused and play better because I know I can,” added the man whose lowest score at the Kigo is five-under 67.

He is closely followed by Entebbe’s Michael Tumusiime who level-par after carding a sweet six birdies and as many bogeys.

Then Edson Kabareebe is two strokes adrift in third on 74 after scoring five bogeys and three birdies but the Kabale Club player is a shot ahead of Rwanda’s Felix Dusabe and Lugazi ace Godfrey Nsubuga who are tied on 75.

Hole-in-one 

Serial competitor John Paul Basabose is sixth after returning four-over 76 including a sweet hole-in-one off the 15th tee using Ping pitching wedge in company of Joseph Cwinyaai and Frank Mugisha.

“I didn’t expect it,” said the handicap two player who will win a prize from sponsor Motorola for his second career hole-in-hole. He also had two birdies, five bogeys and an agonising triple-bogey on par-4 Hole No.18.

“I am very content with my round today. It is just two holes that I had challenges with, I think I stand a big chance (to win the Open) this time,” Basabose added.

Defending champion Cwinyaai is still in shock while tied 11th on eight-over 80. “I do not know what to say, I plan to go so low tomorrow (Thursday),” he said. Pressure cooker, it is!

81ST TUSKER MALT UGANDA GOLF OPEN

DAY ONE LEADERBOARD

1 Andrew Ssekibejja (UGA)              71

2 Michael Tumusiime (UGA)             72

3 Edson Kabareebe (UGA)                74

T4 Felix Dusabe (RWA)                     75

T4 Godfrey Nsubuga (UGA)             75

6 John Paul Basabose (UGA              76

7 Ibrahim Bagalana (UGA)                77

8 Joseph Kasozi (UGA)                      78

T9 Brian Mugabe (UGA)                    79

T9 Allan Mugisha (UGA)                   79


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