Despite the tough weather conditions that characterised the early stage of the MTN World Golfers Championship in Durban, South Africa, the Nigerian Team gave a good account itself by finishing an all-time high 8th position. The biggest amateur golf tournament in the world, ended in South Africa, last weekend.
Golfers numbering over 300 from 26 countries, including Nigeria, attended the eight-day tournament, staged over four Golf courses in Durban.
Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Swaziland were the only countries that represented Africa at the event. The early part of the tournament was characterised by a disturbing weather concern as occasional rains, gusty wind and cold held the KwaZulu- Natal hostage without restraint.
The effect of bad weather was so pronounced that the first practice day at Prince’s Grant Golf Estate, was cancelled while many players were still on the course.
This doggedness was highlighted by the steady progress of the team, on the leaderboard, since it was placed 14th, at the end of day one, of the tournament. In the subsequent days, Nigeria, progressively made its presence count by rising to the 11th, 10th and finally 8th positions on the overall table.Samuel U. Amadi, 0-5; Okechukwu Ananaba, 6-10; Susan Cole-Kotas, 11-15; Udeme Esset,16-20 and Diana Osmond, 21-25, represented Nigeria in the championship category.
Their endurance was stretched to the limit after an intensive and competitive 72-hole golf, on some of the best courses, along the famed Golden Mile of Durban.The courses are Durban Country Club, Cotswold Downs Country Club, Umhlali Golf Club and Prince’s Grant Golf Estate.
Two of the courses, Durban and Prince’s Grant Golf Estate are directly opposite the Indian Ocean and exposed to the ocean currents, while the inland Cotswold Downs is on a high altitude where the cold was very pronounced.
But the star performer was Osmond, who inspired Nigeria on the third day of the tournament, with a 64- net score she which posted at Durban Country Club, to place third in her category.The 16-year-old rookie is a final year student of Aunty Ayo Girls Secondary School, Ikoyi.Osmond was involved in the mix on the final day of the championship with Mitja Reinhadt of Slovenia and Rajiv Sethi of India, at Umlahli Country Club for the category leadership. But, she dropped out of contention after she flirted with the Out Bounds at hole 10 and had to settle for the sixth position.She was also the second youngest player at the annual world championship.
The World Golfers Championship is a boost to her rising profile which already includes the US Junior Open at Pinehurst No 2 in 2012.
Osmond was happy to represent Nigeria. She said her experience at the world level would encourage more school girls to take an interest in the game of golf and promote in Nigeria. ‘’It was very tough at the early stages, of the tournament because the courses were difficult. But at the later stage, when I played simple golf courses, I found it easy. ‘’Personally, I have achieved my purpose of coming here as I met many people. I hope that the exposure I gained at the MTN WGC will encourage many students in Nigeria to embrace golf because they can also go places through the game’’, Osmond said.
The essense of the tournament, as a networking tool, was also reinforced by the participation of Nigerian business executives in the world golf invitational event (WGI). Former Protem Speaker of the House of Representatives Rt. Hon. Terngu Tsegba and Mr. Boni Obieze were the two golfers who participated in the tournament, on the invitation of MTN Nigeria. Obieze said he was happy to network with different people from many parts of the world, where many business meetings were facilitated.
Interestingly, apart from golf activities and the courses, there were social activities that spiced the evenings after each day’s game. Princess Birgitta of Sweden, who participated in the tournament, was among the special guests that graced the Gala Night which brought the ceremony to a close.
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