L – R General M.A.O Amolegbe, Captain, Ikoyi Club 1938 Golf Section; Gbenga Shobo, Deputy Managing Director, First Bank of Nigeria Limited; Samuel Njoroge from Kenya and Winner of the 57th FirstBank Lagos Amateur Golf Open Championship; Babatunde Akinleye, Chairman Ikoyi Club 1938; Candy Agu, Lady Captain Ikoyi Club 1938 Golf Section and Tunde Johnson, Vice Captain Ikoyi Club 1938 Golf Section during the Prize presentation at the final of the 57th FirstBank Lagos Amateur Golf Open Championship held in Ikoyi Club, Lagos over the weekend.
He came, he saw and conquered; that better describes the performance of the visiting Kenyan, Sam Njoroge, who stole the show on his first ever visit to Nigeria, where he also won his first ever International tournament; the 57th in the series of the annual Firstbank sponsored Lagos Amateur Open Golf Championship, which holed out at the golf section of Ikoyi Club 1938 on 18 November 2018.
The 2-handicaper arrived Nigeria on Thursday, November 15th had a feel of the course later in the day, returned on Friday for another quick survey of the course, before unleashing his golf skill on his peers, even though he said the thought of winning was far from him when he got the invitation to be part of the international amateur championship.
“I told myself this is my first visit, so I don’t expect I can win. I just want to play good golf, enjoy my game and leave the rest”, he said in a chat with Golf Nigeria.
But all that changed after his opening round of 3-over par 75 when he found himself in contention in a field of 90-contenders, mostly Nigerians, many of whom had played on the course severally.
Scaling through the half way cut, Njoroge seemed better prepared for the final round. Aided by what many described as his flawless swing, chipping and sublime putting skill, the young man instantly became the topic of discourse around the Course. Some described his as a ‘witch’ on the Course; while others simply say he is destined for a great future in golf.
Their thought and admiration for the Kenyan was eventually confirmed when he carded a level par 72, winning the competition by 4-shots over one of the tournament favourites, Monday Eze, who closed with 1-over 73, for 151-total.
Eze shots an opening 78 before, 4-shots off the winners opening 75 to duck in the second position. Eze who was disappointed at the outcome actually gave a good account of himself. He has won the coveted trophy twice and was gunning for his third title before the visitor pushed him down the leaderboard.
Emmanuel L. was two-shot further back at 11-over par, over 36-holes while another Nigerian, Emmanuel Olusegun came fourth at +12. Biodun Oyewoga completed the top-5 category in the competition at +17 over two-days.
Already, Njoroge is eyeing pro golf career in Europe, saying, all things been equal, he hopes to be in United Kingdom by June next year in pursuit of long life dream of becoming a professional golfer. His sojourn, he said would be funded by friends, admirers and supporters.
Njorige is not just good in the sport; he is Kenya’s number One amateur and holds his Club’s; Kenya Railway Corporation Golf Club’s record of 61-gross, a feat he attained early this year.
Njoroge holds a High School Certificate, has done a course in Business Studies and did a little bit of IT.
On his assessment of the Nigerians he competed with, he said, “They are good, it is just that they are not consistent,” Probed further on what he meant by their inconsistency, he simply said, “Lack of practice”.
Now 23, Njoroge started playing golf at the age of 9 and never Caddied before he turned amateur.
Analysts say his victory is a pointer to the international status of FirstBank Lagos amateur open, one of the longest running amateur event in the world and a challenge to the Nigerians he played with.