IN KAMPALA, UGANDA
Call it playing the blame game or just being mere bad workmen, the professionals predominantly led by the Kenyans here in Kampala were in finger-pointing mood on Friday.
Day Three of the 12th Tusker Malt Uganda Professionals Open, fittingly codenamed ‘Moving Friday’, came with varying 'pressure' for all in the mix.
And with just 42 of the 88 professionals left in the mix to contest for the Sh4m cash-pot, the playing field was expected to be much less.
But when the professionals turned up at their tee-boxes for the real money game, they were greeted by a host of amateurs competing in the subsidiary category under the Stableford full handicap format. The amateurs were scheduled to start their rounds from the 10th tee.
“These are way too many amateurs,” bemoaned Dismas Indiza, who started the day with a three-shot lead, even before he began his round. “There is going to be a lot of stoppage in play.”
Former Kenyan national amateur team coach Brian Njoroge, too, wasn’t entirely happy with the sight of amateurs literally ‘hacking and shanking’ balls a couple of fairways away.
“This is the day that decides who wins the championship. Focus has got to be at optimum level. But this (amateurs on course) is not going to help one bit,” said Njoroge.
But the tournament’s rules official Edwin Tumusiime urged them to play on.
“They are just under pressure,” Tumusiime told Nation Sport. “Maybe they just don’t want to see the amateurs playing. But this is the wish of the sponsor to have them incorporated. And they are just 75 amateurs included. The pros should just embrace the amateurs and play.”
At the end of the round, Indiza’s fears were somewhat justified as he returned his worst round thus far – three-over-par 75 - to drop from pole position to third.
But Njoroge must be wishing he didn’t say anything as he climbed up the leaderboard 11 places after firing his best round thus far – three-under-par 69 - to finish the day tied in eighth with Uganda Professional Golfers Association (UPGA) captain Deo Akope with an aggregate of 219 after 54 holes.