Event: Tusker Malt Uganda Open Golf Championship 2020
Duration: 26th November – 6th December 2020.
Venue: Uganda Golf Club, Kitante
The 2020 Tusker Malt Uganda Open Golf Championship will officially tee-off on Thursday, 26th November 2020 at Uganda Golf Club’s par-72 course in Kitante. As it has been the tradition, the ladies will be in action in the first week with their three-day event winding down on Saturday, 28th November.
We have witnessed a few rounds of golf this year due to a ban on sports imposed by government in March as a COVID-19 preventive measure.
However, golf was one of the sports to swiftly swing back into play even before the noose on other sports disciplines was loosened as players engaged themselves in recreational golf.
Back to the Uganda Open, there are a few twists and turns in this year’s staging as there is no foreign player in the ladies event, making the category purely a home affair.
With little golf played this year, picking favorite players to emerge triumphant in different categories won’t be easy but I will give it a try.
1. Ladies Open: Irene Nakalembe (Uganda).
Playing off handicap 3, Entebbe Club darling Irene Nakalembe has the lowest handicap in the ladies category and will surely retain some of the lowest scores.
With Tanzanian trailblazers like Iddy Madina Hussein, three-time winner Angel Eaton, 2018 winner Neema Olomi and the like missing out of action this year, this is surely Irene Nakalembe’s chance to get off the mark at the event.
Last time out, Jinja Club bred and now Lake Victoria Serena based Martha Babirye (handicap 4) won the Ladies title with a total gross of 242, just one stroke better than Nakalembe but the former had a good start to 2020 when she won her sixth straight Entebbe Ladies Open in March.
Needless to say, many pundits have already dubbed the ladies event as a Nakalembe-Babirye affair, a claim that might be suicidal as some players might wreck havoc in the pecking order.
Playing off handicap 5, Tooro Club’s Peace Kabasweka is another lady golfer which might surprise the gallery to the top spot and she is likely to feature in the ‘pressure group.’
Uganda Ladies Golf Union’s President Evah O. Magala (handicap 5) just like left handed star Gloria Mbaguta (handicap 7) are also in pursuit for a maiden open title and could claim glory this time round.
2. Amateur Open: Joseph Cwinyai-ai (Uganda).
Last year, Daniel Nduva became the first Kenyan post 2005 to win the Amateur category of the Uganda Open, breaking Uganda’s 11-year duopoly.
However, South African based Nduva is a no show for this year’s event hence national amateur team Captain Joseph Cwinyai-ai from Tooro Club will now lead his domestic legion to reclaim glory.
Cwinyai-ai (handicap +1) who is hunting for his maiden title is a regular at the Uganda Golf Club course and he will seek to perfect his swing once and for all during the official practice round next week.
However, no one talks about Amateur Open without mentioning Kenyans.
Vet Lab Golf Club’s trio of Isaac Makokha Ogola, Ebill Otieno Omollo and Jackson Mureithi Mwangi will all be in town and will want to leave Kampala with nothing but the 2020 Amateur Open title.
Tanzanian Joseph Victor, handicap +2 of Dar-es-Salaam Golf Club will also want to lift his flag higher and since he’s one of the best handicapped players in mix, he could easily turn tables and run back home with the accolade.
3. Professional Open: Muthiya Madalitso (Zambia).
When it comes to this category, it’s always hard to look past the defending championship and in this case Lusaka Golf Club’s Muthiya Madalitso is likely to retain the title and also claim 22.5 % of the Sh. 100 Million pro kitty.
Madalitso will lead his Zambian three-man legion and will hope to be the happy ones during the awards dinner on Sunday 6th December.
However, just like in the Amateur Open, Kenyans are another problem in the professional event too especially having perfected their game in the various legs of the Safari Tour a couple of weeks ago.
Five-time winner and former champion, Dismas Indiza Anyonyi of Mumias Golf Club, 52 in December, is ready to give young boys a run for their money having had good stints at the Safari Tour.
Indiza, just like many Kenyans including former national amateur Captain Samuel Njoroge Chege, Greg Snow and the like are no strangers to the Uganda Golf Club course and will all surely be eager to make the cut and get some money.
Uganda also has a long cast of pros including inaugural (2006) winner Deo Akope who will be eager to return to the top since 2014.
The Ladies Open will tee-off first running between 26th to 28th November.
The championship main event which is the men’s amateur event, the oldest category (marking its 79th staging) in the Open is in two categories, that is; Amateur gross which will run between 1st to 4th December and the Amateur Subsidiary slated for 5th and 6th December.
The Professionals (pros) will be in action between 3rd and 6th December.
The tournament sponsors are; Tusker Malt Lager (main sponsor), Next Media, Master Power, Pinnacle Security, Pepsi and Case Medicare (who will handle any COVID-19 issues and other health related matters).
2019 Uganda Open Winners:
Ladies: Martha Babirye (Uganda)
Amateurs: Daniel Nduva (Kenya)
Pros: Muthiya Madalitso (Zambia)