It has been a spectacular golfing season for Deus Willy Kitata and Flavia Namakula, the two stars who played exciting golf, won big and ruled the greens in 2014.
Kitata won the prestigious Uganda Amateur Open Championship title, breaking his three-year runner-up jinx in this tournament while Namakula recaptured the Ladies Open title, ending the foreign legion’s hold onto the event. And, it all climaxed in September and October when the two most important tournaments on the local calendar were staged.
Kitata’s ‘Special’ triumph:
In September, Kitata beat off stiff competition from Adolf Muhumuza to clinch the Amateur Open title with a single shot victory after sudden death play-off at the par-72 Uganda Golf Club (UGC) Kitante course. Playing the best golf of his four-year career, Kitata clawed back from fourth position on Day 1 to tie with Muhumuza on 292 gross on the final (fourth) day of the tournament to force a play-off.
As fate had it, Kitata, who admitted that lady luck was on his side this time round, won the play-off when Muhumuza’s tee shot on the par-4 hole (No.12) fell out of bounds and led to a one-stroke penalty. Kitata delivered a par score on the hole to win the tense play-off.
This triumph ended Kitata’s three years of pain in the tournament he had finished runner-up in 2011, 2012 and 2013 editions. While revelling in glory, the 25-year-old declared his triumph ‘special’ after seeing former champions Peter Ssendaula (2009 and 2013) and Philip Kasozi (2012) among the scalps in the trail of his now famous victory.
Ironically, Kasozi and Ssendaula are club-mates with Kitata at Entebbe Golf Club, but the pair had humiliated the latter on the course in 2012 and 2013 respectively during the Open Championship. Before the Uganda Open triumph, Kitata, a former footballer, tennis player and caddie, had won the Burundi Open in April.
Last month (November), Kitata added the Kinyara Open title to his rich trophy collection, ending the memorable season on a winning note.
Kitata’s quick rise and success, capped by winning the Uganda Open title in just four years, has been phenomenal. But the player, nicknamed ‘Public Enemy’ by fellow golfers for his fierce competitor approach on the course, attributed his 2014 breakthrough to thorough preparations, which included playing in Europe, Asia and other African countries. “The experience I gained from there came in handy,” Kitata remarked in an interview with The Observer in October.
Namakula’s Open Treble:
In the ladies game, Flavia Namakula did it in similar fashion as Kitata. Namakula, unanimously decorated as Uganda’s golf queen, won her third Uganda Ladies Open title in October to seal her place among the country’s greatest golfers.
But this triumph was more significant because Namakula, who had won the Uganda Open in 2010 and 2011, brought back the title home after Tanzanian Angel Eaton took back-to-back honours in 2012 and 2013. And, the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) golfer won it in emphatic style leading the three-day tournament from start to finish at the par-72 Uganda Golf Club course, Kitante.
She fired 217 gross to triumph with a massive 12 strokes ahead of Eaton in the runner-up spot. En-route her historic Uganda Open treble triumph, Namakula played awesome golf in which she delivered the longest drive (on No. 18) in the tournament.
Apart from the Uganda Open title, Namakula picked up other trophies on the local competition circuit which included the inaugural Palm Valley Ladies Open at the new Palm Valley Golf course in Kakungulu estate on Entebbe road in October as she warmed up for the Open and the MTN Mug of Mugs in January.
Away from individual successes, Namakula led Uganda’s team to the All Africa Challenge Trophy (AACT) held in June in Nairobi, Kenya. Namakula played alongside Harriet Kitaka and Katy Kabenge in the tournament, although they did not pick up the best of results.
Overall, Uganda finished sixth out of 17 nations that competed in the biennial tournament. As team captain, Namakula led the way with a personal aggregate of 27-over-par 240 to finish 11th overall out of 48 players in the stroke play showpiece. Kabenge finished 20th with 46-over 259 while Kitaka (265) finished 23rd position.
Off the course, Namakula had another milestone in 2014. Her impressive exploits on golf courses earned her a new army rank early this month (December). She was promoted from Corporal to Sergeant, thanks to her outstanding performance in the game of golf.
After winning the best that there’s at the amateurs’ level, both Kitata and Namakula have decided to move on and pursue professional careers next year. So, golf fans in the country should brace for new champions in 2015.
In the professionals (UGPA) circuit, Deo Akope bagged Shs 23 million after winning the pros category race of the Uganda Open in September. Akope shot three-under 281 to beat off Kenyan Dismas Indiza (on 284) to take home the biggest single cash prize on the UGPA circuit events.
Dennis Anguyo (two-over 286) settled for the third place, and cash prize of Shs 8 million.
Source : The Observer