The 2019 Nigeria Ladies Golf Open Championship teed off on Wednesday at the IBB International Golf and Country Club in Abuja, with Ugandan Irene Nakalembe dictating the pace.

Uganda’s Irene Nakalembe, winner of the 2019 Nigeria Ladies Golf Open Championship, on Saturday in Abuja explained the reasons behind her success and that of Ugandan ladies in golf in Nigeria.

Nakalembe who won the event on Friday in Abuja said the encouragement and support she and her compatriots were getting from their Nigerian counterparts were very crucial.

The handicap 4 amateur golfer recorded 236 gross score over three days at the event organised by the Ladies Golf Association of Nigeria (LGAN) from Wednesday to Friday.

Newsmen report that Nakalembe’s success came about 12 months after compatriot Evah Magala celebrated victory at the Nigeria Ladies Open in Uyo.

“We have always felt at home in Nigeria. In fact our people back home call us Nigerians, because we always come and participate in different events here in Nigeria.

“Now we know how to eat pepper, we can eat `suya’ (roasted cow meat) and `amala’ (made from dried yam flour),’’ Nakalembe said.

She added that the Nigerian hospitality and familiarity with the environment have gone on to help their golfing, saying “we have also come to understand the terrain of golf clubs in Nigeria”.

Nakalembe grossed 76 on the opening day, 80 on the second day and another 80 on the third day, to lead the competition from the beginning to the end.

Four of the other seven Ugandans who participated in the competition finished among the top 10 winners, with Magala the defending champion finishing in third place with a 254 gross score.

They were among over 100 golfers who competed for the prestigious 2019 Nigeria Ladies Open trophy, and were drawn from clubs in Lagos, Otukpo, Port Harcourt, Benin, Asaba, Uganda, Kenya and Ghana.

NAN reports that among the winners at the competition was Rachael Danjuma of the IBB International Golf and Country Club, who emerged the Best Gross Runner-Up with a 248 score.

Danjuma, who is now the newly-elected Zonal Vice President (North) of LGAN, recorded 82 on the opening day, another 82 on the second day and 84 on the final day.

Magala, who is also the Lady Captain of Uganda Golf Club in Kampala, failed to defend the trophy she won in 2018 at Uyo after she returned a gross of 254 to emerge the third best in gross.

Policewoman Amina Wilfred of the IBB International Golf and Country Club won the Best Nett prize with a score of 228.

Helen Alechenu of Otukpo Golf Club in Benue won the Best Nett Runner-up prize on a count back.

In the race for the auxiliary prizes, Danjuma shot 220 metres on hole one to be adjudged the player with the longest drive.

Magala won the Nearest to the Pin on Hole I6 with 1.9 metres.

Eunice Ogah of Port Harcourt Golf Club emerged the winner of the Lady Super Veterans category, while Folashade Olateju of IBB International Golf and Country Club won the Lady Veterans prize.

Newsmen report that the tournament held at the IBB International Golf and Country Club in Abuja helped to mark the end of the tenure of the Ekanem Ekwueme-led LGAN Executive Committee.

In a statement released on Saturday in Abuja by Kayode Adeniyi, the Director of Media and Publicity for the Open, Ekwueme commended the Open’s Local Organising Committee (LOC).

Ekwueme, who is now the immediate-past LGAN President, said the LOC led by Julie Okah-Donli, the Director-General of NAPTIP, put up a good show.

“I say ‘thank you’ for the support, ‘thank you’ for the friendship, ‘thank you’ for the loyalty, and ‘thank you’ for making my last day in office a memorable one.’’

Ekwueme noted that the situation have improved for lady golfers and LGAN in the past two years.

“Our members have travelled far and wide playing the game both within and outside the continent.

“Our trip to Achimota Golf Club in Accra, Ghana last year for the All African Challenge Trophy with over 50 ladies was a remarkable achievement and such a thing should be encouraged by the new Executive Committee.

“I congratulate all the ladies for taking part in this Open, and I urge the new Executive Committee to keep the flag flying,’’ she said.

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