A field of 105 players including six amateurs are set to tackle the par 72 Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort course Wednesday morning from 8am in the first round of the 2019 Uganda Open Golf tournament.
The event organisers had received an entry of 132 online, though up to the entry deadline which was 2pm on Tuesday, some of the players who had sent their names, had not registered for the event.
Tournament director John Kato said he had extended the entry deadline in order to give more players time to register though up and at the time of writing it was only the field of 105 players who had registered and paid the entry fees.
“We have had to re-do the draw several times in order to give room to those who were late to arrive though we can’t wait indefinitely," said Kato. The Uganda Open, being sponsored by Nile Breweries through its top brand of Castle Lite, has been taking place annually since 1932, hence this year’s tournament marks its 78th anniversary. The professionals were however included for the first time in 2006.
The pro event follows the ladies and the elite men amateur events as well as Tuesday’s Pro-Am event which attracted an impressive of pros and amateurs. The pro event will see players from 19 different countries including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Botswana, Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Senegal, Seychelles, Swaziland, USA, Spain and Portugal battle for the $50,000 (Sh5 million) prize.
Hosts Uganda lead with an entry of 36 players followed by Kenya with 34 including an amateur William Odera of Golf Park. Kenyan amateurs clinched the top three positions during the amateur tournament and qualified to play with the pros. However, only Odera remained behind.
Leading the field which has several past winners such as South Africa’s Joshua Seale and Portugal’s Stephen Fereira who won in 2016 and 2017 respectively, will be defending champion Dismas Indiza from Kenya who last year shot 10 under par at the century old Entebbe Golf Club. Indiza, one of the longest hitters, has won the pro title six times since 2006.
“This is a different course compared to Entebbe though it still offers one a great chance, but one must also bear in mind the field that is here this year," said Indiza.
Besides Indiza, other Kenyan pros who stand a good chance include Muthaiga Golf Club’s Greg Snow who won the first leg of the Safari Tour at Nyali Mombasa two weeks ago, after returning from the Sunshine Tour in Swaziland where he missed the cut despite having shot four under par.
Fresh from his second place finish in the Karen Masters, Ferreira will certainly be one of the top players to watch, and so will be Nigeria’s Andred Odo, Zambia’s Dyne Moore and Zimbabwe’s Tongo Charamba all of whom are regular players in the Sunshine Tour.
And for the first time, the event will also feature two female professionals Bhavi Shah from Kenya and Uganda’s Flavia Namakula who will not however qualify for the Kenya Open even if they do well in the Uganda Open which is now part of Kenya’s Safari Tour. The Magical Kenya Open is an event open to men professionals only.
The Great Lake Victoria Serena course is in good condition and some interesting scores are likely to be posted going by the amateur event last week.