By Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
From a casual view, the Presidential Golf Course, Mongomo, Equatorial Guinea is captivating and benign, but to the trained eye, it is a very tough and unforgiving layout, capable of denting a professional player’s score card.
The over 7,000 metres long course carved from dense and lush vegetation is an enchanting layout revered by golfers and guests. From December 8-11, it will welcome 60 professional golfers (men and ladies) from 24 countries for the fourth edition of 3e Actuaries Equatorial Guinea Open.
Nigerian professionals like Kingsley Oparaku, Fred Eweka and Austin Akpodiete discovered the other side of Mongomo at the 3rd edition of the tournament last year, when their championship hope was compromised after incurring extra strokes.
Sadly, they will not be among the eight Nigerian wild cards that will jostle with the international field of 48 male players for the prize money of $100,000 after failing to make the automatic cut for 30 players.
Oche Odoh, who won the 54-hole contest, will lead other Nigerian automatic qualifiers, including Sunday Olapade, Kamalu Bako, Gift Willy, Morgan Atako, Christopher Francis, Michael Ubi and Mohammed Haruna. Uloma Mbuko will compete with 12 players for $50,000 in the lady event.
Olapade, who finished in joint seventh with Spain’s Puig Giner, last year, is wary of the demands of Mongomo having also featured in the 2014 edition.
The Osun State born player, who is based at Ibori Golf Club, Asaba, declared that he knows what to expect in Mongomo and is setting up his preparations to meet the expectations.
“Mongomo is a very tough course but I am doing my best to improve on my Equatorial Guinea record. I wake up by 5am and hit 500 balls every day. It will be a rare feat to accomplish victory on a very demanding and unforgiving course. It is a course that rewards good shots and in another dimension does not allow mistakes go unpunished. It is a characteristically long, tough and challenging course,’’ Olapade said.
The No 4 player on the Nigerian official ranking order, listed the par 4 hole 2, the par three 14th and the long par 5 10th,among the toughest holes on the course, adding that apart from accurate shots into the fairways, players are required to be calm and be fit because of the length of the course.
Olapade, who finished in second position at the Celtel Ghana Open, 4th at CMCL Open (Ilara –Mokin), tied for 5th at the Memorial (Otukpo) and 13th at West Africa Golf Tour (Port-Harcourt) added that Nigeria’s domination of Equatorial Guinea Open since 2013 will also boost his chances of winning.
All three editions held in Malabo and Mongomo were won by Nigerian players: Willy in 2013 and Odoh in 2014 and 2015.
“I bet Nigerian players can beat anybody if supported. Our government should encourage the game to thrive by providing incentives. I can beat Rory Mcllroy if the sponsorship is provided, ‘’ Olapade boasted.