By Michael Nsubuga
This year’s Tusker Malt Uganda open promises to be one of the stiffest competition ever going by the number of entries that have shown interest in the event.
The main event of the competition starts today with all the top amateurs that include defending champion Peter Ssendawula in action at Kitante course.
Ssendawula will be up against a strong field of 102 players that include his national team mate and 2012 champion Phillip Kasozi, 2011 winner Roger Byaruhanga, Willy Kitatta and all the national team golfers who have just won the East African Challenge. The main event also has 13 foreign entries.
Kitatta, who has been runner-up for the past three years, believes he can win it this time following his training stint in Europe recently.
Karanja Karubiu Junior alongside Herman “Deco” Mutebi will be the youngest players to play in this year’s Open which also have seasoned golfers George Kituku, Abbey Baagalana, Patrick Mugisha, John Basabose among others.
The players will not only have to outcompete each other but also have to deal with a redesigned course which has had new characters added.
The course has had a change-over on the greens, and fairways and roughs have been given a new touch. The course will be played as a par 71 for the Open following the reduction of the yardage to hole-No.13 which has been reduced from a par 5 to a par 4.
Sixty professional golfers who are fighting for a sh100m kitty are also in action starting today.
Notables in the field are Sunshine Tour players Alan Michell, Tebogho Sefatsa, Tongoona Charamba and Farahi Chitengwa.
A full field of Uganda professionals including defending champion Vincent Byamukama and a Kenyan contingent and that of Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia are also in action.
HTC Hub, Century Bottling and Sheraton Hotel join
HTC Hub Uganda and Century Bottling Company have offered sponsorship for the PRO-AM event.
“We are pleased that more sponsors are coming on board to boost our planning efforts and to increase the excitement for all golfers in this Open,” the Union president Kiryowa Kiwanuka said.
Earlier, Sheraton Hotel had also pledged sponsorship for the Open.
The hotel will in a sh200m offer be the official hosts for the competition. Sheraton has in the process earned the golf term of being the ‘20th hole’ of the event. A round of golf consists of 18 holes. The club house is usually referred to as the 19th hole.
The foreign entry of over 100 golfers will be accommodated by The Sheraton. The hotel will also feed the 408 golfers on top of hosting the opening and closing ceremonies together with tournament press conferences.
Chitengwa sends early warning
During the practice round yesterday, Zambian Chitengwa sent an earkly warning to the Ugandan professional legion when he returned a 2-under par 69, also threatening the course record that stands at 65. Local top golfer Deo Akope hit a par 71 while defending champion Vincent Byamukama returned 74.
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Uganda Open golf championship tees off today