But after rewriting history books for the second successive year on Saturday at the par-71 Entebbe Golf Club by becoming the first person to complete a hat-trick of Castle Lite Entebbe Ladies Golf Open titles in three successive years, Nakalembe deserves all the respect she demands
Two years ago, Irene Nakalembe could have passed for a golfer who promised so much and yet delivered too little. One who had a swing at the sky but terribly missed the ground.
Why? She had played bridesmaid one too many at a time to Flavia Namakula in all competitions the two friendly foes took part in hence attracting the ‘unwelcome’ name of ‘Namakula of Entebbe’.
But after rewriting history books for the second successive year on Saturday at the par-71 Entebbe Golf Club by becoming the first person to complete a hat-trick of Castle Lite Entebbe Ladies Golf Open titles in three successive years, Nakalembe deserves all the respect she demands. After opening up a four-shot lead on Day One with a round of 74, Nakalembe grit her teeth to win an exciting cat and mouse battle against her opponents of the day – leftie Gloria Mbaguta and Eva Magala – with a round of seven-over-par 78 enroute to claiming the ‘Holy Grail’ by nine strokes.
“Namakula deserves her name back and now we can officially have the Nakalembe of Entebbe and Uganda,” said Nakalembe, failing to hold back a chuckle as she had another glance at her glittering trophy. “I won the last two Entebbe Open title with her here in the fray. Me and her remain close friends.”
Asked to comment on how she felt after achieving what looked like a distant dream three years ago, Nakalembe was elated.
“Wow. Three in a row is a special event. I didn’t think I could win this year but the way I was putting after professional Araali (Vincent Byamukama)’s tips gave me a lot of faith. I played five-over on the front nine and never missed any 10-foot putt on the back nine enroute to sinking three birdies (No.10, 13 & 18) on Day One.
On Day Two, I kept my nerves down even when Magala caught up and we were level as we teed off on No.13. What followed is she got five successive bogeys as I picked pars. The rest was history.”
The handicap five golfer quashed talk of becoming a professional any soon as she prefers to remain a ‘senior amateur’. And she will have swing on the fairways with added swagger after Edward Kabuchu announced that his company MSL Logistics will pick her golfing tab for 12 months starting June this year.
Amongst the niceties to come her way at the Britam Insurance co-sponsored event was also a weekend for two at the Kabalega Wilderness Lodge.
ENTEBBE LADIES OPEN LEADERBOARD
Overall Leaderboard – Top Five
Irene Nakalembe 74 78 152
Gloria Mbaguta 84 77 161
Eva Magala 78 83 161
Meron Kyomugisha 85 85 170
Vicky Elias 83 90 173
Group winners (women)
A: Vicky Elias 155 nett
B: Pheibe Chandiru 145 nett
1st 18 holes: Melon Kyomugisha 85
2nd 18 holes: Anne Abeja 89 (c/b)
Esther Okullo 157 nett
W: Martha Babirye
M: Serwano Walusimbi
Nearest to the Pin
W: Joweria Namanda
M: Jacob Byamukama