Golf. Nakalembe struggled to score on the par 4 No.4 but her rivals failed to take advantage of her frailties as she basked in glory with her third successive diadem
A tough battle for honours was anticipated when Tanzanians Victoria Elias and Joseph Naome confirmed participation in the seventh edition of the Entebbe Ladies Open last Thursday.
However, this foreign legion did not match the expectations of many neutrals as Irene Nakalembe clinched a hat-trick at the two-day Castle Lite and Britam-sponsored event on Saturday.
Nine-handicapper Elias took a respectable fifth place whereas Joseph took seventh place. And neither did the familiar bigwigs trouble Nakalembe much. The Corporative Insurance Company (CIC) agent Nakalembe led on Day One, temporarily stuttered but still came out tops on to add to her 2015 and 2016 titles.
She had a four-shot lead after carding three-over 74 on Friday with last year’s runner-up Eva Magala (78) as her immediate chaser. “When I raised the bar on Day One with a four-shot lead, I knew I was in it,” Nakalembe said after victory.
But tables turned when a troublesome front nine left Nakalembe trailing Magala by two strokes at the par-3 No.8 on Day Two. “Actually, the par-4 No.4 was my toughest hole (bogey on Day One and double-bogey on Day Two),” Nakalembe later said.
Failure to pounce
Even then, Magala and Gloria Mbaguta could not capitalise on Nakalembe’s frailties. Vindication for that?
By the time they got to par-4 Hole No.13, Magala fell apairt with five straight bogeys while Nakalembe got pars. “I did not have a good finishing touch,” said Magala.
“But the way I played means you cannot buy experience. I have been away on but when I came to practice earlier this week, my body was in sync and my consolation is I take back home something.
“But with the tournament having grown to a level like this, I think I need to win it next year,” she added.
That below-par finishing touch by Magala was punished by left-hander Mbaguta who earned the second place albeit on countback. “I felt bad when I had failed to make the pressure group,” said eight-handicapper Mbaguta.
“In the final round, I minimised the errors as a long hitter because the trees were too tall while the greens were too tight.”