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Saturday, April 1, 2023

Akakasiaka canvases support for golf as Epe wins Meristem Open |

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One of Nigeria’s greatest golfers, Peter Akakasiaka, has joined the call for more corporate support for the game, saying Nigerian players need encouragement to grow their talents and compete successfully with their peers from developed countries.

Akakasiaka, who was at the launch of the Professional Golfers’ Developmental Tour at the weekend, said Nigeria currently, has better players than it had in his era, saying they will bring honour to the country if supported.

“This Tour project is dear to me and I believe it is the element that was missing in my time, despite the effort we put in. I urge well-meaning lovers of the game to support the Professional Golfers’ Developmental Tour. I have seen players with better talents than mine, who will bring honour, fame and prosperity to all stakeholders,” he said.

At the Meristem Open, Francis Epe of Ikoyi Club 1938 fended off a stiff challenge from Ghana’s Vincent Torgah to win the trophy, with nine under par after 54 holes of play at the Lakowe Lakes Golf and Country Estate in Lagos.

Epe, a former Nigeria Professional Golfers Association number one ranked player, now tops the Professional Golfers’ Developmental Tour ranking that was launched with the event.

“I am really happy,” he said after his win, which he achieved by shooting 69 (-3), 70 (-2), and 68 (-4) on each of the three rounds that event was decided.

“I had come here late in December 2022 and spent some days playing this course in readiness for this event. Many thanks to those who supported me in making that happen. So, when this event started, and the pressure mounted, especially in the last round, I knew I had to resort to some basic strategies I had planned. Be on the Fairways and hit the green in regulation,” he said.

Epe was three shots clear of the field of 87 players that competed for the N10 million prize purse in the inaugural event promoted by Meristem Securities.

Speaking on the tournament, Meristem Securities Group Managing Director, Wole Abegunde, said it was a privilege for him and his team to lead the resurgence of interest in professional golf, adding that the outcome would yield a good result for the many talented Nigerian youths that have chosen sports, especially golf, to express themselves.

“We could produce top professional golfers who should have been on the US PGA Tour, or even the European Tour and other top players. We have done that in football, our local talents are finding expressions in top leagues across the world. And we are not less endowed in football, so, more than any other thing, that is what we have come to support professional golfers to achieve with the promotion of the PGD Tour platform,” he said.

Ghana’s Vincent Torgah, who was a joint leader in the first two rounds of the event, was blown apart with Epe’s composure in the closing round leaving him with 69 (-3), 70 (-2), and 71 (-1) a total of 201, six under par for the three days. Long-hitter Sunday Olapade settled for third place with 212, four under par total from the event.

The Meristem Open is the first event on the Tour and organisers have assured that at least four more events would hold before the golfing season is over.

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