Kampala. Martha Babirye was the main subject of the clubhouse conversation at the Entebbe Golf Club after assuming a one-stroke lead on Day One of the Castle Lite Uganda Ladies Open yesterday.
The twin slept on cloud nine last night after emerging top of the 40-man field with a best round of five-over 76 at a course whose greens have received acclaim from players and the growing gallery.
And Babirye has surely enjoyed her moment at the top. “Everything was okay,” the thrilled Uganda Golf Club player, who has vastly improved in the last 18 months including a national team debut a fortnight ago, said after her round.
To underline that growth, Babirye carded five birdies on Holes par-4 No.3, par-4 No.4, par-5 No.7, par-5 No.11 and par-5 No.18.
“My tee-shots were good and I tried not to look at my mistakes,” she said.
But the round could have been sweeter only for bogeys on Holes par-5 No.1, par-3 No.2, par-4 No.5, par-4 No.9, par-3 No.10, par-4 No.13, par-4 No.14 and par-4 No.17, and a double-bogey on par-3 No.8 to grace the occasion.
“In golf, you have a good hole and a bad hole. Actually, you come to enjoy and if you come to win, things may go otherwise. So I am enjoying my game.” 76 on Day One has proved good enough to win the Open as 2017 champion Tanzanian Angel Eaton’s card read then. But truthfully, Babirye must cover up for her inexperience at this stage by quickly adapting to the conditions.
Now the rest of the pack is on her bumper with Ugandans Irene Nakalembe and Gloria Mbaguta as well as Tanzanian Ayne Magombe a shot behind each on 77.
At 11:50am, Babirye will be in the pressure group with Nakalembe and Magombe determined to dethrone her.
“Since I am with good players in my group, it will help my game. It will be a competitive group and you need to play like them. (And) Yes with God, nothing is impossible,” Babirye added.
But home girl Nakalembe, who arrived here on the back of Entebbe and UGC Ladies Open triumphs as well as second at the Ghana Ladies Open, was blown away by the triple-bogey on No.9 and a double-bogey on par-3 No.12.
“Day One was tricky but the course is very good. It’s us players who didn’t take advantage of it,” said Nakalembe, Open runner-up in 2016 and 2017. “I was putting very well but I had two bad holes and I couldn’t come out. Will get better tomorrow,” she added.
Magombe is interestingly ahead of her counterpart Eaton, who is three strokes off the pace
“I had a hard time on the first nine but my long game was perfect. I want to watch out on the first nine tomorrow,” said Magombe who picked three birdies.
Eaton, seeking to add to her 2012, 2013 and 2017 honours reeled more with . “Holes No.9 (triple-bogey) and No.16 (double-bogey) made my game a bit hard. I didn’t play well on those two holes with chipping and putting. I need to master my game,” she said.
1 Martha Babirye (UGA) 76
T2 Irene Nakalembe (UGA) 77
T2 Ayne Magombe (TAZ) 77
T2 Gloria Mbaguta (UGA) 77
T5 Hawa Wanyeche (TAZ) 78
T5 Nzioka Mwongeli (KEN) 78
T7 Vicky Elias (TAZ) 79
T7 Angel Eaton (TAZ) 79
T7 Petra Nalwoga (UGA) 79
T10 Jenina Nasimolo (UGA) 80
T10 Neema Olomi (UGA) 80