There is no man who has been as consistent as Ronald Otile at the men’s Uganda Amateur Open since 2015. From a wire-to-wire victory, Otile defended his title in 2016 before losing a three-hole play-off to friendly foe Ronald Rugumayo at the Uganda Golf Club (UGC) in Kitante last year.
Champion, champion and second is how Otile’s report reads. With Rugumayo off with a list of stars to the professional ranks, the stage seems set for Otile to pursue his third Open title.
The South Africa-based Ugandan will lead the race when the 77th Castle Lite Uganda Open tees-off at the par-71 course in Entebbe this morning.
“Winning it again will help me advance my resume,” Otile told Daily Monitor in an interview early this week.
The 23-year-old returned home in company of Daniel Baguma from Turks Golf Academy in Pretoria on Thursday and has since pitched camp in Entebbe. “The greens were a bit disturbing on Sunday but the putting and shot game is much better,” Otile said.
Otile’s magic is married with the UGC course but his pursuit is in Entebbe where his last major tournament was a success with the national team – winning the East Africa Golf Challenge in November 2014. “The difference is that in Entebbe you have to hit the fairways to score well but in Kampala, you can still score, anywhere you hit,”
Much needed help will come from his caddy Douglas Mugisha who hails from Entebbe. “He knows all the breaks on the greens and where exactly to go on the fairways,” Otile noted of the man who guided him to glory. “We are both calm and well organized on the course,” he added.
With solid Rugumayo, two-time Open runner-up Adolf Muhumuza and his little brother David Kamulindwa out to the paid ranks, it turns out that Otile’s close friend Baguma leads his opponents.
Baguma has equally been consistent, making the top 10 over the last three editions with best as fifth place last year. “I have been in my own shadow but I am here to just play to my goals. I want to do better than last year,” Baguma offered.
Now Entebbe’s darling Deco Mutebi, who carded one-under par 70 in the practice round yesterday, would love to save face for the host club whose queen Irene Nakalembe struggled in the Ladies Open last weekend. “I will give it my best shot,” said Mutebi, eighth last year.
National team captain Becca Mwanja has done most his plot at UGC and so has Denis Asaba at Tooro and Joel Basalaine in Lugazi. But as the Ugandans gear up, their desires will be checked by Kenya’s national stars Edwin Mudanyi, Samuel Njoroge, Mutahi Kibugu and Mike Kisia.
After today’s round, the 138-man field will feature at a new addition to the Open – the par-3 contest, like at the Masters, on Holes No.2, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 16.