Twenty. Two national opens. Winner of all. And as signs tell, we are likely to see the boy from Tooro Golf Club (TGC), Ronald Otile, for a long haul.
Wearing a face of a kid’s innocence, Otile never played with the same outlook as he racked up the course to win both the Tusker Malt Amateur and Professional Opens, the latter claimed on Saturday his latest addition to the rookies championship clinched seven days earlier.
Having stroked 73 on Day One, Otile hit his and any amateur’s maiden 7-under-par 65 the next round from where he led to Day Three with a 3-under 69 before completing his remarkable feat with a 3 over 75 on the last round for 282.
Otile’s elegance and calm demeanour on the par-72 Kitante course, where his tee shots, putting, and ability to chip himself out of trouble often left the throngs of fans and his fellow golfers in awe, at times betrayed his age amidst the bewildered professionals.
“He hits the ball a long distance, he putts good, chips good, he is fearless,” said Zambian Muthiya Madalitso, who carded 67, 76, 67 and 73 for 283 over the four days to finish behind Otile by a stroke but claim the Pros Open.
Otile and nine other top amateurs played in the Pros Open with only the double winner and Kilembe’s Happy Robert making the cut after two rounds.
“I think he should be harnessed greatly and encouraged to become something better than what he is now,” added Madalitso.
Madalitso arrived at hole 12 with a one-stroke lead on Otile over four days but bogeyed it as the Ugandan played level.
Otile, whose eagle on No. 3 kept him in touch with Madalitso, then struck his only birdie on the day on 13 to take a one-stroke the lead 7 under, with the Zambian playing par. It was clear now the championship was between these two and there was no turning back.
Both Otile and Madalitso played par on 14, 15 and 16 before the Zambian oozed some class befitting of someone who has once played at the US Open.
They all found the green from their second shot on the par-4 hole, but with none near the pin. On for his second birdie, the first having come on hole No. 3, Madalitso walked across the 60 feet from his ball to the pin, and past it to squat and get his alignments right.
On returning, he committed with his putter a long roll that found the pin to the crowds’ applause. He punched the air, and knocked congratulatory fists with Otile, who played level to go to No. 18 all square.
“I knew hole 18 was always a challenge for him (Madalitso) because it sloppy,” said Otile, “He told me on Friday that 18 hole was funny.
“When he hits his ball on the fairway, it kicks to the left. So I knew that he was worried with the hole. I knew at least the best we could do was all par the hole and finish all square.”
Otile’s tee shot hit the trees on the right and rolled back to the fairway. But Madalitso’s went to the woods, rolled off a spectator and defiantly settled behind a tree. He played safe back to the fairway.
His next shot, a third on the par-4 hole, found the sand bunker and his chip could only stop near the pin. He took his bogey putt and Otile found pin with his fourth putt to clinch his second title, 7-under, in one week.
UGANDA OPEN GOLF
Professional Final results
Ronald Otile (Ugandan Amateur)
73 65 69 75 282 Gross
Pro overall winner:
Muthiya Madalitso (ZAM)
67 76 67 73 283
Dismas Indiza (KEN)
74 72 74 69 289
Richard Ainley (KEN)
73 73 74 70 290
Riz Charania (KEN)
75 72 67 76 290
Stefan Engel (KEN)
72 76 68 76 292
Brian Njoroge (KEN)
72 77 74 70 293
James Karanja (KEN)
70 75 72 76 293
Herman Mutawe (UGA)
72 72 74 76 294
Simon Ngige (KEN)
70 77 74 71 294
Michael Palmer (SA)
69 74 77 74 294
Professional Open winners since 2006
2006: Deo Akope (UGA)
2007: Dismas Indiza (KEN)
2008: Dismas Indiza (KEN)
2009: Richard Ainley (KEN)
2010: Jean Baptiste Hakizimana (RWA)
2011: Dismas Indiza (KEN)
2012: Dismas Indiza (KEN)
2013: Vincent Byamukama (UGA)
2014: Deo Akope (UGA)
2015: Ronald Otile (Amateur).
Zambia pro Muthiya (bottom) was 2nd.