History-making Ronald Rugumayo on cloud nine after DP World Tour feat

Ugandan professional golfer Ronald Rugumayo celebrates after a shot

The 31-year-old Ronald Rugumayo became the first player from Uganda to make the cut at a DP World Tour event, with the cheers from his birdie putt on the ninth hole reverberating around East Africa. Picture: twitter.com/UgEquityBank

Published Feb 25, 2024


On any other week on the DP World Tour, it’s something as simple as making the cut. But at the Magical Kenya Open, the moment held so much more significance for Ronald Rugumayo.

The 31-year-old became the first player from Uganda to make the cut at a DP World Tour event, with the cheers from his birdie putt on the ninth hole reverberating around East Africa.

Well aware of the magnitude of his achievement, Rugumayo is proud to fly the flag not just for his nation, but for the entire region he is now representing this week.

“There are no words that I can use to express how I feel,” said Rugumayo. “I’m so grateful for Kenyans, my fellow Ugandans who flew all the way (to watch me). Honestly, it’s not about me as a player, it’s not about Uganda, it’s about East Africa. Everything I’m doing, I’m doing for East Africa.

“Coming into this year’s Kenya Open, I had a few targets. One was to do more than just make the cut. If I’m just making the cut, I would be limiting my potential. I feel great. It’s amazing.”

Starting young

After first picking up a golf ball at the age of six, he gave up on soccer as a teenager after seeing his older brother, also a keen golfer, win a tournament. He is now using his profile to inspire others and he hopes to see his fellow countrymen enjoy moments like these in the future.

He’s no stranger to making history, as last year at this event he also became the first Ugandan to make a hole-in-one on the DP World Tour.

“Everything I post on social media, I always hashtag ‘Golfing To Inspire’,” he added. “My dream has always been to inspire people, inspire the up-coming golfers. A few years from now, I would like to see more Ugandans playing here on this Tour. Not just Ugandans, but East Africans.

“I’ve been in South Africa playing on the Sunshine Tour and that has been amazing. I would really feel great if in the next few years I saw a few more golfers from Uganda and East Africa doing what I’m doing, or even doing better than I’m doing.”

Rugumayo was well placed following the first round at Muthaiga Golf Club after carding a one over par 72 and he looked a shoo-in for the weekend after making the turn of his second round in two under par.

Yet, after seven holes of his back nine, he faced a nervy finish as he was back to level par after three bogeys and one birdie. But, facing a tricky right-to-left six-footer on the ninth green, he held his nerve and rode his luck as the ball crept in the hole on the near side, sending the local crowd into a frenzy.

With spectators lining the fairways for his third round, he finished in style as he carded three birdies on his final four holes to finish level par, leaving him well placed ahead of the final round.

One man who has closely followed Rugumayo’s fledgling career is Innocent Ndawula, reporter at The Daily Monitor newspaper in Uganda.

A long time coming

“The Ugandan professionals have been trying (to make the cut here) ever since the Ugandan Professional Golfers Association was created in 2006,” said Ndawula. “Ronald only became a professional in 2018, just after he won the Uganda Amateur Open. This is his third time coming to this event and it’s third time lucky.

“After last year’s Magical Kenya Open he went down to South Africa to play Sunshine Tour Q School, he didn’t get his card but he earned a lot of invitations. He showed with those invites that with more exposure he can play better and match those guys pound-for-pound.

“It’s a magical moment for Uganda. He is burning a candle for everyone in Uganda to make sure that they can believe they can do this. He is happy to carry the flag for East Africa. The last two years we saw the Kibugu brothers, Mutahi and Njoroge make the cut – and they were actually born in Uganda.”

Ndawula shared the special moment of Rugumayo’s history-making putt on X, formerly Twitter, and he said the reaction has been overwhelming.

“I’ve not been able to read more than 15,000 messages on my phone from people from Australia to England who know me from covering other sports,” he continued. “The guys in Uganda are celebrating and they must have wished Ronald was playing in the afternoon so they could get their heads in shape. I promise you, you will see a bigger gallery here tomorrow because they are flying in to watch him.”