Third Open crown delights Babirye

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What you need to know:

Babirye’s margin of victory is the biggest in the championship since Flavia Namakula won by six shots in 2016.


Martha Babirye is on cloud nine after rising from the skirmishes of a rather wobbly past year to rise and win the 72nd Tusker Malt Uganda Ladies Golf Open at Kigo at the weekend.

The twin clinched the women’s golf’s most prestigious championship for the third time in four years after flooring the field with a five-shot victory after carding the best aggregate score of 233 gross over 54 holes at the Lake Victoria Serena Resort & Spa.

“I feel so happy,” remarked Babirye. It means a lot to the player bred in Jinja. Even with 2021 winner Irene Nakalembe absent after turning pro, she probably didn’t expect glory off the fine Kigo greens.

And that's considering that her form had been below-par with a sense of rock-bottom after struggling in 19th place at the All Africa Challenge Trophy (AACT) in Tanzania a month ago.

And sometimes, when she chooses to shelf out of the golf family, it mistakenly comes off as pride rather than soul searching.

Playing with a painful right knee, Babirye unleashed the experience of a champion to disarm bookmakers’ favourite in-form Peace Kabasweka and the rising Meron Kyomugisha at the par-72 course.

“I have been off drinking for about two weeks. I want to thank Doreen Mwesigye who supported me when I came back from Tanzania who paid my coach, Vanessa, Chris Kajumbura from Jinja and my ex David, he’s been so supportive,” Babirye said.

“After AACT, I got a coach (Fred Wanzala) who understood my problem with the knee so he trained me on how to swing without hurting it.”

Kyomugisha from Palm Valley only for Day One last year in Entebbe but this time made an enormous improvement to the best round of Day Three - two-over 74 - finishing second overall with 238 gross.

Kabasweka, who had led the charge towards this Open with wins at the Entebbe Ladies Open, the Uganda Golf Club (UGC) championship and UGC Ladies Open, fumbled on the final day with a round of 13-over 85 to finish third on 241 gross.

“I had the worst round of the year,” Kabasweka explained her round of 11 bogeys and a double-bogey on Hole par-4 No.9. Such a finish never wins trophies!

Yet, after Babirye took a four-shot lead on Day One on Thursday after carding 75, Kabasweka had moved just a stroke behind her second place on Day Two.

On her previous two triumphs at this championship, Babirye chased down Nakalembe in the 2019 rain at Kigo and then in 2020, she outmuscled Kabasweka on the last three holes at Kitante to retain the Open.

On Saturday however, Babirye had a five-stroke advantage with nine holes to go even if Kyomugisha had hit birdies on Holes par-5 No.2, par-4 No.3 and par-4 No.6.

“For the three days, I didn’t go to bankers nor water. My putting was good, my driving was on point,” she added.

Babirye’s margin of victory is the biggest in the championship since Flavia Namakula won by six shots in 2016.

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


CAST OF UGANDA LADIES OPEN WINNERS

2022: Martha Babirye (UGA)

2021: Irene Nakalembe (UGA)

2020: Martha Babirye (UGA)

2019: Martha Babirye (UGA)

2018: Neema Olomi (TAN)

2017: Angel Eaton (TAN)

2016: Flavia Namakula (UGA)

2015: Flavia Namakula (UGA)

2014: Flavia Namakula (UGA)

2013: Angel Eaton (TAN)

2012: Angel Eaton (TAN)

2011: Flavia Namakula (UGA)

2010: Flavia Namakula (UGA)

2009: Jasper Kamukama (UGA)


MARGIN OF VICTORY

2022: Babirye won by 5 strokes

2021: Nakalembe won by 3 strokes

2020: Babirye won by 2 strokes

2019: Babirye won by 1 stroke

2018: Olomi won by 2 strokes

2017: Eaton won by 2 strokes

2016: Namakula won by 6 strokes

2015: Namakula won by 6 strokes

2014: Namakula won by 12 strokes

2013: Eaton won by 8 strokes

2012: Eaton won by 5 strokes

2011: Namakula won by 5 strokes

2010: Namakula won by a 1 shot

2009: Kamukama edged Karano in a sudden death play-off


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