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2019 Golf Review: Babirye, Cwinya-ai stand out as national team gets back to winning ways

By Michael Nsubuga

Added 31st December 2019 12:49 PM

Babirye was fresh from winning the UGC ladies open at Kitante. She also claimed the Kitale Ladies Open in Kenya on top of a fourth-place finish in the highly contested Sigona open also in Kenya.

2019 Golf Review: Babirye, Cwinya-ai stand out as national team gets back to winning ways

Joseph Cwinya-ai has enjoyed what is probably his best season ever in his over ten-year golfing career. Photos by Michael Nsubuga

Babirye was fresh from winning the UGC ladies open at Kitante. She also claimed the Kitale Ladies Open in Kenya on top of a fourth-place finish in the highly contested Sigona open also in Kenya.

Golf continued to make great strides in the country as the national golf team returned to winning ways claiming two majors this year.
The good fortunes for Uganda started in March when the national junior golf team made history when they finished second overall behind South Africa in the All-Africa Junior Golf Challenge to qualify for the 2019 Toyota Junior World Cup in Japan.
The Gems Cambridge International School sponsored team, comprised of Joel Basalaine, Denis Asaba, Michael Alunga and Ibrahim Aliga. Although Stephen Kasaija's boys found the going tough in Japan, later on, their qualification to the world championship was a plus to Uganda's golf. They finished at the bottom of the 15-team log.

 he national unior olf team  scar emawere ennis saba oel asalaine ichael lungabrahim liga and oach tephen  asaija and team manager oses atsiko pose  before the team left for the 2019 oyota unior orld up in apan une 13 2019 The National Junior Golf team L-R: Oscar Semawere, Dennis Asaba, Joel Basalaine, Michael Alunga, Ibrahim Aliga, and Coach Stephen Kasaija and team manager Moses Matsiko pose before the team left for the 2019 Toyota Junior World Cup in Japan, June 13, 2019.

 


In June, it was time for the senior team to shine when they beat Kenya by 2.5-0.5 points to retain the Africa Region IV Golf Tournament held at the par-71 Bujumbura Golf Club course. Uganda won for the second time to add on their inaugural edition triumph at Nyali Golf Club in Kenya in 2018.
Uganda's team comprised Joseph Cwinya-ai, Godfrey Nsubuga, Daniel Baguma and Rodell Gaita who proved formidable against their bitter rivals Kenya in the final of the three-day event.
Kenya led the opening two rounds of stroke play (72 holes) with 889 gross (10.5pts), with Uganda finishing second on 894 (10pts); five strokes away, meaning they met in the final match-play round to decide who wins it as the rest fought for positions.
Uganda won by 2.5-0.5 to claim the trophy for the second consecutive time. Uganda will host next year's tournament. UGU president Kihika was elected as chairman of the Africa Golf Region 4 in Burundi.

 he gandan team pose in urundi The Ugandan team poses in Burundi. Courtesy photo

 


The Burundi victory was followed by another against Kenya in the two-nation Victoria Cup tournament that was played at Kitante.
Since its inception in 2016, Kenya had won all three editions, in the event that is the ‘Ryder Cup' version between the two countries. Kenya won 13.5-12.5 points in 2016, 14-12pts in 2017 before completing their hat-trick with a 19.5-6.5 victory.
But the Ugandans were not to be denied on home soil winning 7-3 points in the final singles round for a two-point overall victory; 14-12 to claim their first victory in four years.

 gandas national team celebrate winning the ictoria up at itante ul 6 2019 Uganda's national team celebrates winning the Victoria Cup at Kitante, Jul 6, 2019.

 


At the All Africa Team Golf Championship later in August, the team was also good for fourth place with the team Captain Joseph Cwinya-ai leading by example and producing the best score at the Mont Choisy Le Golf course in Port Louis, Mauritius.
He finished tenth overall, with Godfrey Nsubuga, only playing in his third outing for the national team finishing 11th as Rodell Gaita finished 25th. Dennis Asaba returned a non-scoring 316 gross to finish 32nd in the tournament that attracted 14 countries and won by South Africa.
Cwinya-ai's other would-be victory was only interrupted by torrential rains as he alongside Emmanuel Jakisa competed in the fourth round of Kenya Open Amateur Stroke-play Golf Championship at the Thika Greens Golf Resort.
Jakisa and Cwinya-ai were chasing two and four strokes from the eventual winner Tanzania's Victor Joseph going into the last round when play was stopped due to a flooded course.

 mmanuel akisa in action Emmanuel Jakisa in action.

 


Still, on the international scene, Uganda hosted the 5th edition of the East and Central Africa Regional Challenge Trophy at Entebbe Club in October. Three countries Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda contested for the 5th edition championship, but it was Tanzania who looked more prepared, easily winning by 26 strokes to relegate Uganda and Kenya to second and third-place finishes.
Ugandan players Irene Nakalembe, Martha Babirye, Peace Kabasweka, and Gloria Mbaguta failed to find their rhythm over the three days of action handing Tanzania the opportunity to grab their third regional trophy on the course. Tanzania was represented by Iddi Madina, Angel Eaton, Hawa Wanyeche and Neema Olomi.

 ady golfers from ganda enya and anzania pose before the ast and entral frica egional hallenge rophy at ntebbe lub in ctober Lady golfers from Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania pose before the East and Central Africa Regional Challenge Trophy at Entebbe Club in October.

 


But, Kabasweka had earlier grabbed the victory after she carded 226 gross over 54 holes to win the Tanzania Ladies Open played at the TPC Moshi Club in September. Kabasweka, a national ladies team player and member of Tooro Golf Club becomes the first lady golfer to win a tournament in Tanzania"I was very excited about the win. It came in at the right time, I needed it; it felt great and it was a good platform of displaying one's good game," Kabasweka said.
Another lady golfer Irene Nakalembe would also, travel to Nigeria to claim a double in the Nigeria and Ikoy ladies opens in Abuja and Lagos respectively at the IBB International Golf and Country Club in Abuja and at the Ikoy Club 1938 course in Lagos.
It was the second time that the Entebbe Club golfer was winning the championship having returned as defending champion this year.
"Nigerians are highly competitive, so winning for the second time doesn't mean that I had it easy. I just went to play a good game, winning came as a bonus," the RwandAir sponsored golfer said.

 r aggie igozi 2nd left and sponsors representatives from astle ite ndrew tuhaire left cbanthony degwa back and ritam and  president va agala 2nd right pose with  rene akalembe after the astle ite ntebbe adies pen at ntebbe lub arch 2 2019 Dr. Maggie Kigozi (2nd left) and sponsors' representatives from Castle Lite, Andrew Atuhaire (left), cba-Anthony Ndegwa (back) and Britam and ULGU president Eva Magala (2nd right) pose with Irene Nakalembe after the Castle Lite Entebbe Ladies Open at Entebbe Club, March 2, 2019.

 


On the local scene, she had finished second in the Uganda Ladies Open and also claimed the Castle Lite Entebbe Ladies Open for the fifth time at Entebbe Club.
Eva Magala had recorded similar success earlier in the year when she won the 21st IBB Nigeria Ladies Open played at the IBB International Golf and Country Club in Abuja.
The national ladies team player, who is also the Uganda Ladies Golf Union president, carded 244 gross over 54 holes to edge Nigeria's Rachael Danjuma to the title by four strokes.
Magala was also the best lady golfer during the Pepsi Independence Golf tournament at the Palm Valley Golf and Country Club in Kakungulu Estate.

 rene akalembe kisses the astle ite ntebbe adies pen trophy at ntebbe lub arch 2 2019 Irene Nakalembe kisses the Castle Lite Entebbe Ladies Open trophy at Entebbe Club, March 2, 2019.

 


Earlier, Kabasweka and Paul Ndyaguma had enjoyed an all-expense-paid trip to Pattaya, Thailand after they finished top in the individual standings with 237 and 196 points respectively in the inaugural edition of the Tusker Malt Lager Golf Series that traversed the whole country.
They were joined by the teams of Collins Bulafu/Geoffrey Orach and that of Dorothy Nabirye/Sharon Kawanyi who amassed 51 points each in the final round of the series.
Elsewhere, Richard Lutwama and Robert Busingye will enjoy a fully paid golfing trip to watch the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in Dubai next month after they won the third edition of Singleton Golf Challenge played at Entebbe Club.

 obert usingye left and ichard utwama right pose with   ark citti after he crowned them the overall winners of the third edition of the ingleton olf hallenge at ntebbe lub uly 13 2019 Robert Busingye (left) and Richard Lutwama (right) pose with UBL MD Mark Ocitti after he crowned them the overall winners of the third edition of the Singleton Golf Challenge at Entebbe Club, July 13, 2019.

 


Another international victory was attained by ten-year-old Keisha Kagoro returned 298 gross over 54 holes to win her category in the 2019 SA Kids Junior African Challenge at the San Lameer Country Club in South Africa.
She consequently earned herself the title of Junior Africa Challenge Champion awarded to the best girl and boy in each age group.
On the local scene, several golfers grabbed wins in different tournaments including Ashiraf Bagalana and Habib Kisande who the Kitante and JBG Opens, Emmanuel Jakisa and Mackline Nsenga who won the Tooro Open.
Professional golfers Richard Baguma, Herman Mutaawe, Silver Opio and Ronald Rugumayo were also victorious in the JBG, Kinyara, Chairman's Cup and Independence tournaments.

 eisha agoro center poses with ebster eagan and aur gamjot left after the frica unior olf hallenge in outh frica ourtesy hoto Keisha Kagoro (center) poses with Webster Meagan and Kaur Agamjot (left) after the Africa Junior Golf Challenge in South Africa. Courtesy Photo.

 


Martha Babirye also made history after she carded 242 gross over 54 holes to win the Castle Lite Uganda Open ladies tournament at the Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort and Spa. She edged Irene Nakalembe who is still chasing for her first Uganda Open title by a stroke.

Babirye was fresh from winning the UGC ladies open at Kitante. She also claimed the Kitale Ladies Open in Kenya on top of a fourth-place finish in the highly contested Sigona open also in Kenya.
Locally she won the Mbarara Ladies Open as well, on top of two monthly mug victories at Kitante and several Ladies Group A accolades from various tournaments in Kampala and upcountry.

 ganda adies pen champion abirye poses with her trophy Uganda Ladies Open champion Babirye poses with her trophy

 


The seniors also continued with their own tours across different courses in the country with Peter Obita win the JBG Seniors Golf at Tooro Club, Alex Coutinho the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) Seniors Golf Open tournament at Kitante, David Scanlon and Ruth Ssali the Lake Victoria Seniors Golf Challenge at Entebbe.
The Uganda Golf Union (UGU) and the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) entered a partnership to position Uganda as Africa's premier golf tourism destination. The three-year, sh50m partnership started with the joint promotion of the Castle Lite Uganda Open Tour which launched at the Lake Victoria Serena golf course on March 30, before traversing the whole country. It was played over six months as a build-up to the annual Uganda Open.
West Nile Golf Club won the tour after collecting an unassailable 299 points from the nine tour events. Entebbe Club finished second.

 est ile olf lub players celebrate with the astle ite ganda pen our trophy after they were crowned at itante ugust 17 2019 West Nile Golf Club players celebrate with the Castle Lite Uganda Open Tour trophy after they were crowned at Kitante, August 17, 2019.

 


Following the tour was the Uganda Open that was won by Zambia's Madalisto Muthiya (professionals), Kenya's Daniel Nduva (amateurs), Uganda's Martha Babirye (ladies) and juniors (Rogers Eyoyo and Frolence Aciyo).
Some Ugandan professional golfers joined the Safari Tour that will have three events in Uganda. Two were completed this year at Entebbe and Serena with the last one in February at Kitante.
The top two non-Kenyans from the tour will get entry into the Kenya Open while there are eight slots for the Kenyan nationals. Only members of the Safari Tour earn points.
Uganda's Phillip Kasozi still has the better chances of qualifying as one of the foreign entrants having amassed 125.5 points after the first five Safari Tour events thus far.
He is closely followed by Zimbabwe's Robson Chinhoi on 78 points. Five tour events remain before the Magical Kenya Open at Karen Golf Club in March.

 ambias adalisto uthiya receives the astle ite ganda pen professionals trophy from inister iwanda suubi 2nd right after the tournament at the ake ictoria erena olf esort ept 14 2019 Zambia's Madalisto Muthiya receives the Castle Lite Uganda Open professionals trophy from Minister Kiwanda Ssuubi (2nd right) after the tournament at the Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort, Sept 14 2019.

 


Entebbe Club youngsters Elton Thembo and Frista Birabwa won the juniors' open in Entebbe with John Ayebare and Doreen Kirabo winning at Kitante.
Uganda golfers currently on scholarships in the US also shone with Titus Okwong and Edrine Okong helping their college (Livingstone College) win the HBCU Golf Invitational tournament at the Summer Grove Golf Club in Newnan, Georgia.
Okong carded 147 gross to finish fourth overall while Okwong finished seventh with 150, out of 48 players; respectively over two rounds to help their college win the championship alongside Michael Sutton and Alex Stuart who finished second and fifth in the two-day championship that attracted players from eight universities.

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