A strong contingent of 30 professionals led by multiple-winner Dismas Indiza will face a stern test from southern Africa challengers when the Uganda Open tees off on Thursday at the Par 72 Uganda Golf Club.
Going by history, it will be a battle royale pitting Indiza against defending champion Zambia’s Madalitso Muthiya and 2016 winner Joshua Seale of South Africa.
Interestingly, Indiza is the most successful player at the tourney having won the event a record six times in the last 14 years. He won the event back to back from 2007 to 2012, save for a blip in 2009 when he was dethroned by countryman Richard Ainley. Indiza would endure a drought of five years before reclaiming the diadem in 2018 but failed to defend it in 2019. Uganda remains his favourite hunting ground, always recording podium finishes on the trot. He enters the Uganda Open on the back of a successful show at the opening legs of the 2020/21 Safari Tour season.
The entry of southern Africa players in the last five years has no doubt spiced up matters at the Uganda Open, stemming Indiza’s dominance while giving Uganda’s pro a run for their money. A consistent performer, Madalitso Muthiya’s maiden win in 2015 triggered a great rivalry with Indiza that has lasted for the last five years. The Zambian, an accomplished player on the Sunshine Tour will be defending the title he won last year. He finished second in 2016.
Also on the radar will be South African born Joshua Seale, who won the tournament in 2016. The 30 year old is the most exposed player in the tournament, having played in the Challenge Tour in several events in Asia. He is currently ranked 1913 in the World Golf Ranking.
The stellar cast at Uganda Open is joined by Safari Tour sensation Robson Chinhoi of Zimbabwe. After a slow start, Chinhoi has worked his way up the Safari Tour Leaderboard to emerge a serious contender for the big-money events in the region.
With the highest number of visitors’ entries, Kenya pros will be hell-bent on extending their dominance over their Ugandan counterparts who will be seeking their first win since 2014 when veteran Deo Akope lifted the trophy. In fact, the locals have only won three times in the last 15 years.
Bragging rights aside, players will be chasing valuable points in the “Road to Magical Kenya” league which will see eight Kenyan pros and two foreign pros clinch slots to next year’s Magical Kenya Open slated for Karen Country Club. Greg Snow, Indiza, Simon Ngige, David Wakhu and Erick Ooko are currently perched atop the Order of Merit standings. The chasing pack of CJ Wangai, Samuel Njoroge, Edwin Mudanyi, Justus Madoya and Riz Charania also stand a chance of sneaking through.
Barring any calamity, Chinhoi is guaranteed one of the two foreign pros slots. The return of Nigeria’s Andrew Odoh at Uganda Open is set to up competition for the remaining foreigners’ slot. Odoh inexplicably missed the opening four rounds of the Safari Tour, throwing Uganda’s Phillip Kasozi and Abbey Bagalana a lifeline. Malawi’s Paul Chidale is also eyeing the slot. The winner of the Uganda Open will earn 50 points.
This year’s event was initially scheduled to be held in August but was postponed following the cancellation of all sporting activities in Uganda when coronavirus struck. The prize money has been scaled down to $30,000 from $50,000 last year. The winner will take home about Kshs 730,000 being 22.5% of the pro-Kitty.
Meanwhile, seven amateurs from Kenya took to the course today as the 79th edition of the Uganda Open Amateur event teed off. Kenya’s charge is led by Adel Balala, Isaac Makokha, John Lejirma, Paul Rimui and John Mburu. They will be seeking to retain the trophy won by Daniel Nduva last year. The amateur trophy has remained elusive with Nduva’s win last year ending a barren spell of 12 years. Only Nicholas Rokoine, 2007, and David Odhiambo 2004 have managed to wrestle the title from Ugandans lately.