Wildcard for Rugumayo

Mixed Fortunes. Akope (L) narrowly missed out, Rugumayo (C) has earned a wildcard whereas its back to the drawing board for Kasozi. PHOTOS | EDDIE CHICCO

What you need to know:

  • How they rated. Deo Akope finished 15th on the leaderboard, Phillip Kasozi (33rd), Willy Deus Kitata (40th), Abbey Bagalana (44th), Vincent Byamukama (47th), Abraham Ainamani (50th), Silver Opio (52th) and Brian Toolit (57th) whereas James Koto and Rodell Gaita were unranked for divergent reasons. Over 80 pros took part in year-long tour.

Ronald Rugumayo will be the country’s only representative at the cash-rich Shs4b Magical Kenya Open scheduled for March 3-6 at the historic Muthaiga Golf Club.

The 30-year-old masked the blushes of Uganda’s 11-man team spineless show during the Safari Tour Series and ignominy of missing out on the European Tour event by making the grade courtesy of an olive branch extended by the organisers. Soon after Rugumayo’s stellar fourth-place finish at the last leg in Muthaiga last week (February 16), he returned home. But a few days after arriving and starting to plot for the rest of the calendar, it dawned on him that he had received a wildcard from Kenya Open Golf Limited (KOGL).

“The four wildcards available to the event organisers have been given to Kenya’s Daniel Nduva, South Africans Toto Thimba and Jayden Schaper plus Uganda’s Ronald Rugumayo,” announced KOGL tournament director Patrick Obath.

Youngster Schaper is featuring for the second successive time as yardstick used by the organisers to inspire fast-rising golfers. South Africa-based Nduva claimed the ticket after a sterling performance in Muthaiga where he finished second to Zimbabwe’s Robson Chinhoi whereas Thimba earned his stripes after he won the KCB Masters at Karen Country Club in 2019.

Super late show

For Rugumayo, who was the least likely of Ugandans to make the grade as it was ATX Technology-sponsored Deo Akope that was ahead on the leaderboard, his spectacular final round saw him finish 12th overall on the final Safari Tour Order of Merit for 2021/22 with 136.5 points. 

Previously the regional golfers thought that the the top 12 golfers, nine Kenyans and three internationals would qualify. But the rules of engagement had been changed and it was only the top eight Kenya golfers and best two internationals (non-Kenyans) that were considered for the elite competition that will be hosted by Muthaiga for the first time as a European Tour event. 

“A dream come true,” exclaimed Rugumayo after learning of his wildcard entry. “I have always earmarked it (Kenya Open) as one of the tournaments that I want to play in my career. I will be on debut but I will confidently carry my country’s flag.”

“I was in the same pressure group with Malawi’s Paul Chidale and I wanted to beat him and qualify. But he also played well and took the second spot for internationals. Now me I have been rewarded with a wildcard,” added Rugumayo who flies out tonight.

“I want to thank Team Mayo for the support especially my manager Edwin Tabaaro, George Nkya, Covid Kwacha Group at UGC, Collin Subika and Isaac Aisu. I am overwhelmed by the love shown and prayers accorded to me,” said the 2017 Uganda Amateur Open champion.

ROAD TO MAGICAL KENYA OPEN

POINTS FROM SAFARI TOUR LEGS

1. Dismas Indiza        (KEN) 372.5 pts

2. Robson Chinhoi  (ZIM)  364.2

3. Simon Ngige         (KEN)  326.3

4. Ooko E. Obura    (KEN)  284.9

5. Greg Snow            (KEN) 223.0

6. Jastas Madoya    (KEN) 219.5

7. Samuel Njoroge  (KEN) 213.1

8. David Wakhu        (KEN) 194.2

9. Mohit Mediratta  (KEN) 151.3

10. Paul Chidale         (MAL) 148.4

WILDCARDS

1. Ronald Rugumayo     (UGA)  

2. Daniel Nduva       (KEN) 

3. Toto Thimba       (RSA) 

4. Jayden Schaper       (RSA) 

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