Almost like an expectant mother, Irene Nakalembe had to wait for eight years for her first Uganda Ladies Golf Open title.
She debuted in 2014 and had piled two runner-up finishes in 2017 and 2019 as well as finishing third thrice at this championship.
But she ended that hoodoo after beating 30 other players in the elite field by three shots over 54 holes at the par-71 course in Entebbe on Saturday.
The handicap four player maximised her knowledge of the course and lessons from failure to return an aggregate score of 222 gross thereby keeping her immediate challenger Kenyan Mercy Nyanchama at bay.
“I would like to thank God for this win,” Nakalembe said during her victory speech upon picking her trophy. “I have chased this win for seven years,” she said, “I thank God that when it came back home, I grabbed it this time,” she added.
For varying reasons, Nakalembe had kept falling short at glory. For instance, errors on the sloping par-5 Hole No.8 saw her quest slip up, eventually finishing second behind Tanzanian Angel Eaton in 2017.
When the Open came to her home club Entebbe in 2018, she was fatigued upon return from Ghana at the All Africa Challenge Trophy and settled for third.
Yet in 2019, she rued the rain as Martha Babirye usurped her by a stroke atop the leader board after three rounds at the Lake Victoria Serena Resort in Kigo.
Last year, Nakalembe struggled to turn on her lights and eventually finished third behind Babirye and Peace Kabasweka. After gaining a two-shot lead by close of Day Two, she buried all that misery and produced a final round two-over 73 to defeat the pack.
Nakalembe had grown her lead to four shots with birdie at the par-5 Hole No.10 and it moved to five strokes with a par when Nyanchama got a bogey at par-5 Hole No.11.
But the Vetlab player put up a show and Nakalembe a little worries when the lead was cut to just two shots with two holes to go.
However, Nyanchama’s quest crumbled when she carded a triple-bogey on a very complex par-4 Hole No.17 to give Nakalembe breathing space as they headed to the 18th.
71ST TUSKER MALT UGANDA LADIES OPEN
1 Irene Nakalembe (UGA) 78 71 73 222
2 Mercy Nyanchama (KEN) 77 74 74 225
3 Martha Babirye (UGA) 81 73 78 232
4 Peace Kabasweka (UGA) 77 79 80 236
5 Meron Kyomugisha (UGA) 70 89 84 243
6 Gloria Mbaguta (UGA) 82 81 84 247
7 Vicky Elias (TAZ) 78 85 84 247
8 Lillian Koowe (UGA) 88 83 82 253
9 Dianah Nambalirwa (UGA) 85 83 87 255
10 Resty Nalutaaya (UGA) 86 87 83 256
CAST OF UGANDA LADIES OPEN WINNERS
2021: Irene Nakalembe (UGA)
2020: Martha Babirye (UGA)
2019: Martha Babirye (UGA)
2018: Neema Olomi (TAN)
2017: Angel Eaton (TAN)
2016: Flavia Namakula (UGA)
2015: Flavia Namakula (UGA)
2014: Flavia Namakula (UGA)
2013: Angel Eaton (TAN)
2012: Angel Eaton (TAN)
2011: Flavia Namakula (UGA)
2010: Flavia Namakula (UGA)
2009: Jasper Kamukama (UGA)
MARGIN OF VICTORY
2021: Nakalembe won by 3 strokes
2020: Babirye won by 2 strokes
2019: Babirye won by 1 stroke
2018: Olomi won by 2 strokes
2017: Eaton won by 2 strokes
2016: Namakula won by 6 strokes
2015: Namakula won by 6 strokes
2014: Namakula won by 12 strokes
2013: Eaton won by 8 strokes
2012: Eaton won by 5 strokes
2011: Namakula won by 5 strokes
2010: Namakula won by a 1 shot
2009: Kamukama edged Karano in a sudden death play-off
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This writer is a global broadcaster and as well, a scribe with Daily Monitor Newspaper and sports presenter with Radio One FM 90 in Kampala. Follow him on Twitter: @AllanDarren and his Facebook Page: Darren Allan Kyeyune
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