Oche Odoh yesterday became a second-time winner of 3E Actuaries Equatorial Guinea Open Championship in Mongomo. The Nigerian professional golfer overcame a fierce Ebela Mvondo Desire of Cameroon by four shots in a keen final showdown over the pristine Presidential Golf Course.
Odoh played a final round -2 under par 70 for a combined score of -8 under par 208 that gave him the winning purse of $15, 000 ( about N3 million). The total purse shared by 30 out the 50 players who competed the tournament was $70,000 Odoh’s win is symbolic as it ensured that all three editions of the national open championship of Equatorial Guinea have been won by Nigerians. Gift Willy from Port Harcourt won last year’s edition.
Odoh will now earn an automatic invitation to the Brazil Open Championship in Rio next year courtesy of the Brazilian Golf Federation.
Ebela saved par on the last hole to finish at -4 under par 212 and avoid a tie for second position with Englishman Parker Lewis, who was in the penultimate group and finished at -3 under par 213. Emos Korblah of Ghana joined Diezou K JR of Ivory Coast, Joe Luke of the UK and Puig Giner of Spain in a tie for fourth position at level par 216.
Sunday Olapade and Kamilu Bako placed more Nigerian players on the leaderboad when they both tied for ninth position at 3 over par 219. Olapade from MicCom Golf and Country Club, Ada felt the heat in the final and drooped from the third position he was occupying after 36-hole.
His bid suffered after he found the right side bunker on hole one and dropped shots on holes 1, 4 and 6.
Though he birdied the seventh and eighth, a double bogie at 17th and a bogie at the last hole proved costly.
Odoh began the day with a four shots cushion. With both Ebela and Olapade, who were in the final threeballs, failing to mount a serious challenge, he consolidated his position on the frontnine with birdies at holes 1, 4 and 5. Though he bogied the 14th and 17th, a birdie at the long par 5 15th, put him in winning position. He not only dominated the field which he led for the first two days, he made 13 birdies and five bogies over 54 holes to silence doubters.
Despite his emphatic win , Odoh still rued his inability to make several birdie putts that he had within 10 feet.
” My ball striking was a lot better. I struck to my game plan and gave my self a lot of birdie opportunities which I did not convert. I felt the pressure but I took my mind completely from what other players were doing. It is pleasing that Nigerians won all editions of the tournament. It is a strong international field and it means that we have good players if only we get corporate and government support,” he said.
The tournament organiser, Olawale Opayinka, said that the top 30 players will get automatic invitation to next year’s tournament which will now feature an expanded field of 250 players.
By Olawale Ajimotokan, Mongomo, E/Guinea
Culled from THISDAY