Kampala. It certainly feels like this year’s edition may require more than the usual four rounds to determine the Uganda Golf Amateur Open champion. Why? There is just little that separates the star-studded field after Day One of the 75th edition of the stroke-play Championship at the par-72 course in Kitante yesterday.
Seeking a third successive crown, Ronald Otile opened up his title defence with a level-par score, to open up a two-shot lead over the fiery chasing pack. “It is a good start,” reacted Otile who teed-off first for the day. “Now, I think I can defend my title,” he said.
Playing off handicap two, the South Africa-based Otile will be impressed that he’s top after a double-bogey on par-5 No.5 and later bogeys on holes par-3 No.9 and par-3 No. 17. “Two short putters on No.9 and 17 disturbed me.”
He however levelled the script with birdies on par-5 No.8, par-5 No.13, treacherous par-4 No.15 dubbed the ‘Luwero Triangle’ and signed out with another on par-4 No.18.
Otile will have no breathing space from the chasing group that has five players tied in second place after returning two-over-74 apiece.
Interesting of the quintet is Ashvin Kananathan. The handicap five golfer got two birdies on par-3 No.4 and No.8 to share the spot with teenager David Kamulindwa, Denis Asaba and Jinja club’s Ismail Mahmood.
Earlier, Kamulindwa was three-under after putting on No.4, only to struggle after crossing to Acacia Avenue end. “The back nine cost me a lot,” said the 16-year-old said. “I think I lost concentration but I can improve.”
For Baguma, best in the East Africa Challenge national team qualifiers, it was contrary to Kamulindwa’s. “The front nine gave me trouble but it’s a good start.”
There are five others tied in sixth on 75 including Daniel Baguma, two-time Open runner-up Adolf Muhumuza, Joseph Mawejje Abraham Ainamani, Kenya’s best of the 20 here so far – Dennis Saikwa.
“I thought the fairways were bouncing but I was wrong,” said Muhumuza who had birdies on No.8 and 9 to cut on five bogeys on No.7, 11, 12, 14 and 15. “I three-putted thrice but I am only three shots behind with three rounds to go,” added Kamulindwa’s elder brother.
More fireworks is expected on the course on Day Two today with other notable names like Kenya’s captain Alfred Nandwa and Samuel Njoroge (both 77), Deco Mutebi and Joseph Cwinyaai (76), Titus Okwong (78), Ronald Rugumayo (80) seeking better shifts.
UGANDA GOLF OPEN
DAY ONE LEADERBOARD
1 Ronald Otile (UGA) 72
T2 Ashvin Kananathan (UGA) 74
T2 Denis Asaba (UGA) 74
T2 Ismail Mahmood (UGA) 74
T2 David Kamulindwa (UGA) 74
T2 Richard Baguma (UGA) 74
T6 Daniel Baguma (UGA) 75
T6 Adolf Muhumuza (UGA) 75
T6 Abraham Ainamani (UGA) 75
T6 Denis Saikwa (KEN) 75
T6 Joseph Mawejje (UGA) 75