Nigerian pros bid to qualify for British Open

Golf

Golf

Four Nigerian tour professional golfers are billed to vie for a spot at the 144th British Open Regional Qualifier next week when it tees-off in the United Kingdom.

The four are the former Professional Golfers’ Association of Nigeria (PGAN) Order of Merit leader and assistant resident professional at IBB Golf and Country Club, Abuja, Oche Andrew Odoh, Akinwande Oladapo, Monday Ezeh and Ifeanyi Chukwu. Mark Elisha, who was the fifth, has since pulled out.

The four players are listed to play at the Sandy Lodge Golf Course, North West of London on the border of Hertfordshire and Middlesex, in the United Kingdom. It is one of the 13 regional qualifying centres.

Odoh, who recently won the Cameroun International Open and Oladapo will be making their maiden attempt to qualify for the world’s oldest major.

They will both be banking on their current form and a bit of good fortune to scale the very challenging regional qualifier where less than 10 per cent of the over 1,300 entrants are expected to scale to the next round.

Odoh, who last month became the first-ever player to win the Cameroun Open back-to-back, speaking ahead of the qualifier, said, “I am feeling very good… I am feeling very positive and this I believe is the time to take such a leap,” he told pganigeria.com

Oladapo, who has carded some impressive scores at his home Ikoyi Club (golf section) in Lagos, believes this is the time to make such a major professional move. “Life is about risk taking and I am a professional golfer and this is the British Open. It means a lot in the profession,” he said.

Ezeh, the 2014 Lagos Amateur Open champion, who pulled out of the PGAN Q-School to extend his amateur stint, is currently one of the most respected category one players in the country.

The player, who was at the qualifier last year, is believed to have an edge over Odoh and Oladapo. He is upbeat that last year’s experience will count in his favour when the 18 holes qualifier tee-off on Monday June 22.

Chukwu, based in the United Kingdom, has tried to qualify for the championship a couple of times since relocating from Nigeria in 2001. He is the elder brother of Benin based Kanayo Chukwu. The UK-based pro golfer’s best ranking in the PGAN before relocating was number two, behind Raphael Iyonagbe.

In a related development, Minna, Niger State-based Stephen Okpe is dictating the pace at the 2015 Dr. Mrs. Odushola Ojerinde Memorial Golf Championship with a level par (72) score that he returned on Wednesday June 10, 2015.

Okpe, a newcomer of some sort, however, had to contain the exploit of old warhorses, who were hot on his heels at the commencement of yesterday’s round.

A total of 80 players were tearing through the lush green Otukpo Golf and Country Club in Benue State, where the likes of Olapade Sunday, Marcus Elisha, and Kamalu Bako are sizing themselves up.
Odoh lurked behind Okpe with one stroke deficit, while PGAN’s Order of Merit leader, Ghana’s Emos Korblah was three strokes adrift.

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