KAMPALA- For years, Ugandans have struggled to scale the heights in the professional ranks of golf.
That unwanted charity begins at home. Only two Deo Akope (2006 and 2014) and Vincent Byamukama (2013) have won in 12 editions of the Uganda Pros Open.
It implies, they haven’t reaped much beyond the borders even with talent exportation like Deus Kitata to the Americas.
But the fraternity, particularly Uganda Professional Golfers Association (UPGA) which begun in 2006, can’t be stopped from celebrating after Phillip Kasozi became the first Ugandan to make the cut at the Sunshine Tour at the weekend.
Kasozi beat the odds to make the coveted 60 positions at halfway stage of the Mopani Redpath Zambia Open after returning rounds of six birdies in an opening round of 69 followed by level-par 72 at the Nkana Golf Club in Kitwe.
“Good things are about to happen again in golf for me and the young guys coming up,” reacted Kasozi after making history.
The achievement comes for Kasozi on his Sunshine Tour debut after three years in the paid ranks.
“I am proud of myself,” said the 2012 Uganda Amateur Open champion. “Many have tried over the years and failed so people lost hope in the professionals. It’s good I showed the fraternity that it is possible, next is the European Tour.”
So what was the secret? “I train. And I am reading a lot from those who are there,” remarked Kasozi who finished with rounds of 71 and 80.
The Zambia Open which climaxed on Sunday, with Kasozi tieing in 35th place with Zimbabwean Dayne Moore, Englishman Luke Joy and South African Andrew van der Knaap on 292 gross after four rounds, is the third event on the 2018-19 Sunshine Tour calendar.
In Kitwe, South African Rourke van der Spuy won with rounds of 70, 67, 66 and 69 to finish 16-under overall and take the biggest chunk of the $150,000 (Shs560m) purse. The tournament attracted 144 players and of those that made the cut, only 13 were non-South Africans including Kasozi, three Swedes, three Zimbabweans, Canadian Steven Lecuyer, 2017 Uganda Open winner Portuguese Stephen Ferreira who tied in 24th place, three English men and Nigerian Andrew Adoh.
The Sunshine Tour is one of the six leading golf tours in the world but top South African players choose to play the PGA or European Tour events because of the less prize money here.
The tour has been open to non-White players since 1991. The first three Black winners were John Mashego at the 1991 Bushveld Classic, Lindani Ndwandwe at the 2001 Western Cape Classic and Tongoona Charamba at the 2006 SAA Pro-Am Invitational.
Kasozi not only plans to return to this Tour in July for the Karen Masters in Kenya from July 19-22 but also get membership.
“I am chasing membership on the Sunshine Tour. I plan to pay membership money and get invited for the tournaments,” Kasozi added.
1 Rourke Van der Spuy (RSA) 70 67 66 69 272
2 Justin Harding (RSA) 67 73 65 71 276
T3 Daniel van Tonder (RSA) 72 67 68 70 277
T3 Collin Nel (RSA) 68 71 69 69 277
T35 Phillip Kasozi (UGA) 69 72 71 80 292