Golf. Golf. Last year’s runner-up Eva Magala of Uganda got a quadraple-bogey on the par-5 No.3 and was further blown away with a triple-bogey on par-5 Hole No.5 to return 85. She is level with Gloria Mbaguta in fifth place
Irene Nakalembe has always lived on the periphery. When she started her golf career in 2008, she had to live in the shadows of Flavia Namakula. Her scores didn’t help her cause because her game was wish-washy. Whenever she sprung up a good performance, she was referred to as the ‘Namakula of Entebbe’.
But Nakalembe has slowly changed the tide. She forced her way onto the national team after hatful of second-place finishes in big tournaments on the local scene last year.
The 32-year-old raised her stock further this year when she became the first lady to defend the Entebbe Ladies Open – defeating her close pal and eternal rival Namakula in the process.
Yesterday, she proved that she is no one-hit wonder when she carded four-over-par 76 for a two-stroke lead on Day One of the 63rd Castle Lite Uganda Ladies Open at the par-72 Uganda Golf Club (UGC) Kitante course.
Her round wasn’t full of sparkles. Two birdies (No.5 & No.8) were sandwiched by four bogeys but Nakalembe still had Namakula and the main draw’s elite pack feeding from her palms.
“So far, this is my best start in the Open. I pray it only gets better,” Nakalembe, a mother of two, said after her round. “The round was okay, I am impressed and comfortable.”
But it could have been better after she crossed the front nine at just two-over. The lack of birdies and a pair of bogeys on the par-4 No.12 and par.3 No.17 at the back nine ensured that a return of 76 would do just ‘okay’.
The chasing pack, full of pre-tournament favourites, comprising of four-time winner Namakula, Tanzanian Iddi Madina and Kenyan Agnes Nyakio is joint second on six-over-par 78. “I want to arrive on the par 5s early,” Nakalembe revealed on her plans for today’s round. For Namakula, who is expected to be on contention until the final round, she rued her swing that deserted her.
“My swinging was not good but I will come better,” said Namakula, who crossed Acacia Avenue after the front nine at one-over.
2013 Entebbe Open champion Madina only blamed herself. “I was one-under after nine holes but I lost concentration,” the Arusha Gymkhana Club player said. “Tomorrow (today), I just want to go out there and have fun while I hit as many pars.”
The subsidiary category of at least 200 players joins the fray today.
DAY ONE LEADERBOARD
1 Irene Nakalembe (UGA) 76
T2 Flavia Namakula (UGA) 78
T2 Agnes Nyakio (KEN) 78
T2 Iddi Madina (TAZ) 78
T5 Eva Magala (UGA) 85
T5 Gloria Mbaguta (UGA 85
7 Anne Abeja (UGA) 86
T8 Harriet Kitaka (UGA) 88
T8 Katy Kabenge (UGA) 88
T8 Esther Okullo (UGA) 88
T11 Sheila Kesiime (UGA) 89
T11 Agnes Konde (UGA) 89