Teen Akena in charge of Open 

Gauntlet.  Akena led a four-man Ugandan contingent at the top after Day One. Photo / Eddie Chicco

What you need to know:

  • Baby assassin. Little-known senior three student Reagan Akena from Julian High School near Lugazi’s Mehta Club leads the 80th Amateur Open by a shot after four birdies and three bogeys on Day One at Entebbe yesterday. There is still three days left to play.

Just like the 71st Ladies Open last week, the 80th Tusker Malt Uganda Amateur Open too presented a surprise Day One leader in youngster Reagan Akena at Entebbe yesterday.

The youngster leads the Open by a shot after he carded an admirable opening round of one-under 71 at the par-71 course.

And the fact that it thrust him top of 102-man field, Akena is in an unknown territory. 
“I didn’t expect it,” said the handicap four player who will turn 18 next July.
“But after the practice I had had, I was expecting to be in the top five,” he said. On Tuesday, Akena returned six-over 77 with eight bogeys only two birdies at Holes par-3 No.6 and par-5 No.18.

But he turned around that score within hours to produce an immaculate score yesterday with four birdies on Hole par-5 No.4, No.6, par-5 No.10 and par-5 No.14 only to be clipped by bogeys on Holes par-4 No.3, par-3 No.8 and par-4 No.9.

“I played really well,” Akena said, “I was striking my irons perfect, my chipping was good but my driving and putting were wrong.”

The Julian High School student, who only began playing golf at Mehta Club in Lugazi a decade ago, now hopes to improve that and hopefully, stun the experienced pack in the chase.
“I have to play better than today to stay on top. At the end of the Open, I still think I will be the first,” added Akena.

Akena, who would have been busy with class had it not been the pandemic, is followed by Bulhan Matovu who returned level-par 71 after his four birdies on Holes par-3 No.2, No.11, par-4 No.13 and  par-5 No.15.

The Entebbe-bred player’s score was decimated by bogeys on Holes par-5 No.7, No.14, par-3 No.16 and No.17.
“My long irons, drivers and putting were fine,” said Matovu. “I kept doubting my clubs but I need to be sure going forward especially on the par-3s,” he added.

Three players Emmanuel Moko, Marvin Kibirige and Zambian Chanda Bwembya are tied in third on one-over 72 while five others including handicap +2 South Korean K.J Lee, Kenyan Ebill Otieno and Bwembya’s handicap +3 compatriot Kapoma Musamba are all two shots adrift on 74.

Meanwhile, Open defending champion Kenyan John Lejirma and pundits’ favourite Joseph Cwinyaai each opened with four-over 75 and will need to up the ante on Day Two today. 
Despite firing birdies on Holes par -5 No.1 and No.11 as well as a sweet eagle on Hole No.14, Cwinyaai had a tough time on course.

“I had a really long day full of bad putting,”  said the man who finished fourth at the previous two editions.
He carded eight bogeys and only safe with pars on seven holes.
“My putting was a horror.  I kept three-putting yet my approach shots were fine.

“But I am happy because I thought the score would be worse.  I am not on the leaderboard and that should give me morale to work up tomorrow (today).”

80TH tusker malt UGANDA AMATEUR OPEN   DAY ONE LEADERBOARD
1 Reagan Agena             (UGA)           70
2 Bulhan Matovu          (UGA)         71    
T3 Emmanuel Moko         (UGA)             72
T3 Marvin Kibirige            (UGA)            72
T3 Chanda Bwembya                      (ZAM)            72
T6 Michael Tumusiime             (UGA)            74
T6 Joseph Ngobi Kowa              (UGA)            74
T6 K.J Lee                  (KOR)            74
T6 Ebil Otieno         (KEN)              74
T6 Kapoma Musamba         (ZAM)             74

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