2009 in Focus:Foreign golfers dominate Rwanda Open

As we say goodbye to 2009, a year that promised so much in terms of progress in Rwandan sports but produced little, let’s remind ourselves of what made top news.
KGC President Marcel Byusa congratulates Emmanuel Ruterana after finishing third in the Rwanda Open pro category. Ruterana set a new course record this year.
KGC President Marcel Byusa congratulates Emmanuel Ruterana after finishing third in the Rwanda Open pro category. Ruterana set a new course record this year.

As we say goodbye to 2009, a year that promised so much in terms of progress in Rwandan sports but produced little, let’s remind ourselves of what made top news.

RICHARD Ainley enjoyed a winning foray in Rwanda as he claimed the RwandAir Rwanda Open at Kigali Golf Club.

The Kenyan golfer leveled the Par-72 course in the final round to claim the title by a massive nine shots from home boy Jean Baptist Hakizimana.

Uganda’s Deo Akope, who was three clear after two rounds struggled to 78 and 74 in the final two rounds to claim outright second.

Rwanda’s golf sensation Emmanuel Ruterana elevated himself from amongst the also-rans with scores of 75, 72, 72 and 74 to claim third place on five-over.

Kenya’s David Odhiambo shot 296 over four days to finish fourth while Hakizimana, who is sponsored by MTN-Rwanda rounded off the top five at nine-over.

Clad in his customary brown T-shirt, Ainley constructed three birdies in the final round to signal his intention of walking away with the lion’s share of the Rwf4.24m cash prize.

Ruterana meanwhile thinks that he was let down because of the pressure that comes with playing at home.

“I failed to deal with the pressure that comes with playing at home. At times, I wanted to do too much with the ball,” the former BCR sponsored golfer admitted.

In the main category, it was the Ugandans who shone as Stephen Kasaija leveled the course over four days (288) to take the overall trophy and a lucrative DSTV-PVR kit worth Rwf1.4m.

Last year’s winner Vincent Byamukama came second (295) while homeboy Olivier Munyaneza finished third after returning 304.

The tournament, which attracted 120 golfers from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda, was sponsored by RwandAir, Serena, Tele-10, Bralirwa, Ernst & Young, Kigali Casino, Computer Point, Bourbon Coffee, Romalo Guest house, Republika and The New Times. With the huge sponsorship and player turn-up, the four-day event went down as Rwanda’s most exquisite golf history.

Highlight of 2009
Rwanda’s pro-golfer Emmanuel Ruterana rewrote history after carding a new course record (63) in the November Monthly mug.

AFTER entering Rwanda’s golf history books for being the first golfer to join the paid ranks, Ruterana was back in the books for setting a new course record.

Despite playing in one of the subsidiary categories (professionals), Ruterana could not avoid the spot light with his sizzling performance at the Par-72 Kigali Golf Course.

The 26-year-old carded nine-under par 63 to beat the previous course record of 64.

The spectacular score included six birdies (on holes 7, 9, 12, 13, 14 and 17) and two eagles (on holes 10, 18).
After the display, Ruterana who is close to sealing a sponsorship deal with Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) was short of words.

“I don’t know what to say,” he said in total excitement.
Davis Kashaka meanwhile won the November mug after returning 68net. After a quiet performance on the front nine, the handicap 02 golfer exploded with four birdies on the back nine to finish five strokes clear of his closest challengers Andrew Nkwandi and Emmanuel Nsengamungu who tied on 73net.

After the display, Kashaka stated: “I expected it because I had played equally well on Friday. This is also a good build up to the Rwanda Open.”

“I was putting very well and I just tried to give myself as many chances as possible and I was able to make a few.”

MTN-Ericsson victory down to practice -Kashaka
Kashaka has also attributed his vibrant performance at this year’s MTN-Ericsson tournament to constant practice.
The handicap 02 golfer closed with a birdie on the 18th hole, to finish off with a clinical 72net, three strokes clear of his closest challenger Jack Kayonga.

“It was a great round of golf ... (I was) very much under control,” a contented Kashaka said.  “I played with good regulation and I owe it to my tireless efforts on the course. I have never stopped practicing because I know that it’s the best way for me to improve on my game.”

Kashaka who reeled off birdies on holes 12 and 18 noted that he could have easily pulled off one of the best scores on the course if he had been a little more accurate.

“I came so close to hitting birdies on holes 1, 4, 10, 11, 14, 15, 17 which ironically would have gone down as one of the best performances on this course (Kigali Golf Club).”

Besides his winner’s accolades, Kashaka’s accuracy did not go unnoticed as he was also presented with a prize for coming nearest to the flag on the 14th hole while Marcel Byusa hit the day’s longest drive on the 15th hole.

Linda Mugeni continued her dominance in the ladies category after returning 33points to pocket a Sony Ericsson 3902 phone.

Following a remarkable turn up (over 80 golfers), Sony Ericsson, who jointly sponsored the tournament with MTN Rwanda have now promised to maintain the event as a regular round on the KGC calendar.

Pros shine in JBG Open
IT was a promising outing for Rwanda’s professional golfers as they emerged second and third in Uganda’s JBG Open.
Emmanuel Ruterana carded 143 over 36 holes while Jean Baptist Hakizimana returned 144 to tie with Uganda’s Amos Kamya in third place.

Deo Akope, arguably Uganda’s top golfer won the event after playing 139 but the highlight of the two-day event was Akope’s three-under par 68.

“To play the way I did on the Entebbe course was phenomenon. It’s never easy playing there,” Ruterana, who is on the verge of signing a mega sponsorship deal with Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), said.

Akope pocketed Rwf0.31m for the victory while Ruterana and Hakizimana settled for Rwf0.26m and Rwf0.21m respectively.

Rubangura wins KCB Golf Open
FRATERNE Rubangura stormed to his third win of the year after winning the inaugural KCB Golf Open.

The national team golfer put a miserable East African Golf Challenge outing behind him to edge Steven Katwiremu by a stroke after carding two-over par 74.

The score evolved around birdies on holes number 4 and 14 and bogeys on the 2nd, 5th and 18th hole.

For his victory, he won himself a fully equipped golf bag, courtesy of Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), the tournament sponsors.

Compiled by Julius Mbaraga



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