Nigeria’s team to the last World Golfers Championship, also staged in South Africa, line up behind the flag
By Olawale Ajimotokan
A strong contingent of amateur golfers from Nigeria will arrive in Durban, South Arica on October 27 for the18th MTN World Golfers Championship.
Nigeria is one of the 33 countries whose flags will be hoisted at the opening ceremony of the annual international golf tournament at the Southern Sun, Elangeni, on October 28.
Five members of the team, who pre-qualified at the national championship, will take to the stage in the more recognized WGC, while the rest will act as ‘support cast’ in the World Golfers Invitational (WGI) event.
The Nigerian team will leave Lagos aboard South African Airways via Johannesburg, from where they will connect the flight to Durban in the KwaZulu Natal province for the golfing test which ends on November 3.
Former captain of IBB International Golf and Country Club, Abuja, Paul Erokoro (SAN) is one of the five players that will represent Nigeria in the coveted WGC.
His team mates include Sam Galadima, Emmanuel Onamajuru, Usenobong Akpabio and Uko Urok.
They secured the bragging rights after emerging winners in their respective handicap flight categories at the Nigerian final played over 36-hole in Uyo from September 8-9.
Galadima will most likely be named as the team captain considering this will be his third WGC finals, having featured at the 2007 and 2008 editions in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Florida, USA. The rest of the field don’t have any experience at this level and will be highly charged to make an impact that is worthy of note.
Comparatively, however, it is the WGI event that will provide the Nigerian executives the stage to network with other players from the world. The composition of the team was revealed in the list exclusively made available to THISDAY by Global Golf, the technical partners of the event in Nigeria.
They include, Austin Aigbotsua, Moses Anabui, Mohammed Shehu Kangiwa, Okey Igweh, IK Allagoa, Larry Koinyan (Jnr), Okey Ananaba, Mrs Grace Ihonvbere and Jide Adebulehin.
Also on the team are former captain of Aba Golf Club, Musa Tolani; former captain of IBB Golf Club, Oludare Bello; current Vice Captain of IBB Club, Debo Olateju; MB Hassan, Alex Shaiyen, Daniel Lordis and Sani Anka.
The GM Consumer Marketing, Kola Oyeyemi will lead the MTN team which will also comprise the Master Brand Manager, Kelvin Orifa; and Senior Manager, Master Brand, Emamoke Ogoro.
But beyond the experience of playing on the shores of the Indian Ocean, the WGC is a highly demanding exercise which can only be endured by the fittest players who also boast of the right game plan.
The WGC world final and the Invitational are played over 72 holes, stroke play, with handicap adjustments after each round, giving all a fair and equal opportunity to become a world champion, both in the team championship and individually within each flight.
The tournament will come up on four championship golf courses in Durban with each having its own unique characters and providing something new for the players everyday.
The host golf courses are Cotword Downs Golf Club, Umhlali Country Club, Prince’s Grant Golf Estate and Durban Country Cub.
The Cotword Downs is a championship course designed by the renowned architect Peter Matkovich and built to the standards of the United State Golf Association (USGA). It features elevated fairways, while its ponds and wetlands combine to create an irresistible aura.
Durban Country Club which was built in 1922 and has been the host to many South African Open championships is considered one of the best golf courses in the world.
It is situated only one kilometre north of Durban's "golden mile" beachfront and has the Moses Mabhida Stadium, one of the 2010 FIFA World Cup centres, very close to its clubhouse.
Matkovich is also credited with the designing work at Prince’s Grant Golf Club and Umhlali Country Club.
Prince’s Grant has a reputation for excellence and is considered one of the best link courses in South Africa, while Umhlali is a parkland course and 20 minutes from Durban Airport.
Swede Sven Tumba, who died in October 2011, initiated the WGC concept 18 years ago. The idea which has now become the toast of the golfing world aimed to use golf to promote business and friendship.
Thailand won the last WGC title which coincidentally was held in the KwaZulu Natal region of South