Home boys eye Rwanda Open success
Home favourite Emmanuel Ruterana wants to end the season with a bang and there is no better timing than today when Rwanda’s most coveted golf event; The Rwanda Open tees off.
The four-day tournament gets underway this morning and Ruterana together with his counterpart Jean Baptist Hakizimana will lead the way for Rwanda at the Par 72 course.
A total of 18 professionals are expected to grace the 13- year old event where US$6,000 (Frw 3.27m) has been staked as prize money to make it the most lucrative evnt on the club calendar.
Uganda will field 12 professionals while regional power house Kenya, Tanzania and hosts Rwanda are all expected to field two golfers apiece.
Ruterana sets sights on victory
Ruterana hopes to cap what has been a mixed season with a better showing this week after a series of mediocre performances on the paid ranks circuit.
The former caddie believes there is no better timing than in this week’s Rwanda Open that is teeing off on his favourite course.
The BCR sponsored golfer will try to retain the crown he won 12 months ago although he concedes that it will be tough.
The 26-year-old novice defied the odds when he lifted last year’s title after beating off seasoned professionals; Kenya’s Richard Ainsley and UPGA (Uganda Professional Golfers Association) captain Déo Akope. Although he has been struggling for form recently, he believes he is now playing well enough to claim a repeat.
Ruterana edged out Kenya’s Ainsley by three strokes in 2007 and admits that narrow success brought with it a mixture of joy and relief.
“It was great to play so well at the end of the year and get a win. But most importantly, it was very important for my confidence.” However, Ruterana expects a tougher challenge from Akope, a man who many fancy to be a factor this year.
Akope, fresh off a strong performance at the Uganda Open and the world cup qualifiers is expected to have a major say to who wins the bounty.
Ruterana - Relaxation key for Hakizimana
Ruterana also believes that his counterpart, Hakizimana has the quality to shine provided he maintains a more laid-back attitude that saw him bulge onto the amateur scene a few years ago.
“He is a quality player but he needs to be patient and relaxed,” he said.
“At first, I used to put so much pressure on myself but overtime, I have learnt to be more relaxed and I’m sure he (Hakizimana) can do it too,” he continued.
Last year, Ruterana became the first professional golfer to win the tournament, partly a reward for an incredibly consistent season. It was the first time that professional golf had been incorporated into the tournament which dates back in 1995.
Ruterana hopes something similar will follow this year, but he is keeping to his mantra of focusing on the process, not the results.
“We will see what happens, but I’ve got to try to keep playing better golf. You can never guarantee results,” he stressed.