KAMPALA. Not even a bogey-free round could save the highly-rated pairing of Eva Magala and Irene Nakalembe from elimination at the semifinal stage of the second Singleton Matchplay Challenge on June 9.
The par-71 Entebbe Golf Club (EGC) course was a bee-hive of activity with a large field of 220 players and action on was as exhilarating as never seen before as the four last combos locked horns to earn the right to play in next month’s grand finale that will be played under the ‘Black Tie Nite’ theme.
Magala and Nakalembe had, enroute to the semifinals, given a ‘bloody nose’ to a handful of male pairings. But in Paul Kaheru and Joseph Bagabo, the ladies found their match up in an equally vocal and tactical rival with the right temperament for the big occasion.
Dictating early pace
The gallery witnessed as the male and female pairings slugged it out can only be compared to either the defunct Inter Regions Tourney or Uganda Open final day pressure group.
Magala and Nakalembe, played with precision of a godsend and dictated early pace as cricketers-cum-golfers Kaheru and Bagabo played for survival – clutching at every opportunity to stay alive on the day.
When they went three down (0-3) at No.11, many of the neutrals walked back to the club house to start the 19th hole festivities. But the two gentlemen kept their faithful interested by winning the next three holes (No.12, 13 & 14) to draw level and set up a thrilling finale.
Honours were shared in the last four holes with the females prevailing on No.15 & 17 whereas the males scooped No.16 & 18 to set up the sudden death playoff.
There were shared spoils on No.19 (sudden death No.1). But drama ensued on No.20 (No.2 sudden death) when Kaheru’s sand wedge chip from the fairway of No.3 where his wayward tee-shot hand fallen landed on the green.
Being a 21-handicapper, a bogey was going to be enough for the men to win the hole and the day whereas the ladies needed to play par which they couldn’t after double-putting – thus conceding defeat.
“We are proud of ourselves,” said Magala, also the president of Uganda Ladies Golf Union (ULGU) after missing out on the grand prize whose winning pair will bag tickets courtesy of RwandAir to the luxurious Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, UAE where they will feature in a fully-sponsored Pro-Am event in November.
“The golf we played was something to behold. Imagine one bogey in 20 holes sealing our fate. We bow out heads high. Until next year.”
Another female pairing
The reward for Kaheru and Bagabo will be a face-off with another female pairing; Peace Kabasweka and Sheila Kesiime, who proved too hot and too much for single-low handicappers Charles Mubiru and Joseph Mawejje.
Mubiru and Mawejje had a rare off day and the ladies didn’t allow them have a look at the 18th green with a 3-1 (three up with one hole to go) emphatic victory.
Songstress Sheebah Karungi put the roof off the 19th hole at the awards ceremony with a cocktail of her chart-topping hits, eye-catching waist gyrating moves as the fraternity joined birthday boy Kiryowa Kiwanuka to make merry.