Hosts Kenya ended the day one of this year’s Keroche Breweries sponsored East Africa Challenge Cup golf Championship in third place with five points after losing three matches at the scenic Great Rift Valley Golf Resort course on Wednesday (30th October).
Three of Kenya’s key players John Karichu, Daniel Nduva and local boy Justus Madoya lost their matches to give Uganda a half a point lead from Tanzania who were second with six and half points. Karichu lost 3-2 to Tanzania’s Nuru Mollel and Madoya was beaten 2-1 by Uganda’s top player Philip Kasozi. Kenya’s top junior Daniel Nduva went down 3-1 to Uganda’s Willy Kitata. It was however an excellent performance particularly to Kenya’s other junior players Adel Balala who won their matches with big margin. Balala beat Burundi’s Haruna Hakizimana 8-7 and Mathew Wahome won 6-5 against Ethiopia’s Akilu Haile. Team captain Robinson Owiti also won his match against Rwanda’s Emmanuel Hazimana.
Uganda lost only one match against Ethiopia to lead with seven points. Finishing behind Kenya was Rwanda with three points and Ethiopia who are taking part for the first time were next with two and half points. It was a tough day one for Burundi who lost all the eight matches. The second and third rounds were on Thursday starting with the foursomes in the morning and four ball better ball in the afternoon.
Day two saw Kenya starting to edge up the rankings, finishing an impressive second in overall standings and needing to work hard on the last if they were to retain the title.
On the last day, Kenya produced its usually final firepower, beating Uganda in three tough matches for a maximum of eight points, to retain the East Africa Challenge Golf Championship title though by the narrow margin of half a point at the Great Rift Valley Golf Resort.
Needing all eight points to win, Kenya’s John Karichu beat Uganda’s Ronald Rugumayo 1-up at the 18th, as Justus Madoya who enjoyed a home crowd posted 3-2 win against Willy Kitata. There after Kenya’s team captain Robinson Owiti beat Daniel Baguma 2-1 to brighten the Kenyans face as Daniel Nduva picked up a point from Burundi’s Karim Gwabe with 7-5 victory before Mathew Wahome beat Ethiopia’s Natanim Sisay 6-4. Adel Balala added one more point with a 6-4 win against Ephrem Gabreselassie.
However, it was a tough encounter for Kenya’s last player William Odera who at one time was four up against Rwanda’s long serving Leonard Nkurunziza who Odera however managed to over power him at the 16th hole with a 3-2 victory for Kenya’s clean sweep in the final round singles which saw them retain the cup with a total of 19 points, just half a point from Uganda. This was the third back to back victory for Kenya who won in Arusha in 2011 and Burundi in 2012. Uganda who won all the eight points in the foursomes and four ball better ball, managed only three and half for 18.5 as Tanzania settled for third place on 15.5 having also picked up a point from the Ugandas through Nuru Mollel. Rwanda was fourth on 8.5 and playing the event for the first time Ethiopia won three matches and halved one to finish fifth on 7 points with Burundi finishing last with only three and half points.
Uganda will host the 2014 tournament which is expected to attracted more countries.
The Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort has shown we have the capacity and capability to host tournaments of international repute. The lodge has set a marker, and looks forward to attracting more players, organisers, sponsors and golf enthusiasts to what is undoubtedly one of East Africa’s best golf courses.