Martha Babirye’s never-say-die attitude proved pivotal as she fought off a pressure group to retain her title at the 70th Tusker Malt Uganda Ladies Open at Kitante on Saturday.
Babirye had begun the day trailing Day One and Day Two leader Peace Kabasweka by two strokes but the twin emerged champion for a second straight year with a final round of six-over 78 for a winning aggregate total of 236 over 54 holes at the par-72 Uganda Golf Club (UGC) course.
“It was not so bad, I’m so happy,” Babirye told this paper after receiving her trophy from Uganda Ladies Golf Union (ULGU) president Evah Magala.
“This is one is sweeter because you have to show people that you can do it again. I’ve lost the Open before, so this time I was like, I have to fight until the last hole,” she added.
Two years ago, Babirye had done all the hard work over 36 holes and led the field by a shot only to capitulate for Tanzanian Neema Olomi to win the title at Entebbe.
But this time, it is Kabasweka who felt that pinch. The calm Tooro-bred player had led the field right from onset and even assumed a bigger five-shot advantage on the final day with pars after Babirye carded a bogey and double-bogey on the first two Holes par-5 No.1 and par-4 No.2.
Taking the moment
Championships are, however, won by resilience and character.
Handicap four player Babirye rose to the occasion in front of a small masked partisan crowd on the soggy course to seize that deficit to just a shot when she putted a birdie as Kabasweka had a bogey on the par-3 No.6.
“I gave it a chance, every hole. I just had to look for pars on every hole. Whenever it went bad, my caddie Robert Senteza would tell me ‘Martha, they can do what you’ve done. If you can do wrong, they can also do wrong, so just keep in there, just look for pars.’ And that’s how I made it,” Babirye narrated.
Kabasweka said: “I was unlucky to play a triple-bogey otherwise it was a good fight and experience. I appreciate the second position since it’s my first attempt to lead an Open.”
It is at the green of the treacherous par-4 No.15 dubbed the ‘Luwero Triangle’ where Babirye eventually took the lead by a stroke once Kabasweka erred with a bogey.
Babirye’s delight off the course was greeted with champagne from her fans on an evening that ended early because of the coronavirus restrictions.
Magala announced lawyer Anne Abeja as the new ULGU president .