Olawale Ajimotokan in Mongomo, Equatorial Guinea
President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mbasogo, at an elaborate ceremony, yesterday, teed off Africa’s biggest golf championship – the 3e Actuaries Equatorial Guinea Open in Mongomo.
The opening round of the spectacle to be played over 72 holes will begin today with players from 34 countries competing for the prize $250,000.
Obiang expressed gladness that more players were attending the tournament this year than the previous edition.
He similarly expressed delight that Equatorial Guinea, once one of the world’s poorest countries, was using its oil wealth to promote sports and unify people from different parts of the world.
“Golf was unknown to our country, but I brought the game to Equatorial Guinea and invested in golf courses in Sipopo and Djibloho. Our idea to invest in tourism through sports is what we are reaping today, ” Obiang recalled.
Obiang, who later gave each player a presidential handshake, was presented with a participation certificate by the tournament organiser, Olawale Opayinka of 3e Actuaries.
Opayinka said the tournament has overcome the initial doubts about its relevance when it first started in 2013 by growing into an event with a rising international profile.
The first day of the tournament will see the ladies and gentlemen play together for the first 36 holes.
Defending champion, Craig Hinton of England, Mandhu Mohammad of Zimbabwe and Colombia’s Paula Hurtado will be the first group of players to tee off.
Nigeria’s rising star, Georgia Oboh will play in the 13th group with Niang Samba of Senegal and Linda Wessberg of Germany.
Oboh, accompanied to Mongomo by her parents-Geoffrey and Evelyn- who incidentally are single digit golfers, is the youngest player at the tournament.
The 16-year-old remarked after her practice round yesterday that she was unfazed by the prospect of playing against some of the top players on the Ladies European Tour. She said she was at the tournament for exposure.
Oboh, who was overwhelmed by the beauty of Mongomo, singled out holes four, nine, 14 and 17 as the stand out holes.
“The key is to place the ball in the middle of the fairway and try and find the green. There is nothing too special to do, except to be consistent with my ball striking,” Oboh stressed with enthusiasm last night.