Tragedy struckÂ last week and subsequently threw the golfing world into deep mourning as Nigeria lost two of its finest and best professional golfers in a ghastly motor accident.
The former Order of Merit ( Ali Abdullahi), winner of the President Cup in Asaba,Â who was still basking in the euphoria of his spectacular victory recently at the Golf championship in Cameroun, a prominent member of the EPD Tour in Holland died on his way to Minna from Abuja in company of another fine professional golfer Christian Godfrey. The playersÂ were travelling in Godfreyâ€™s car.
Like Abdullahi, GodfreyÂ current Order of MeritÂ and winner of the last edition of the President Cup held in Uyo,Â Akwa Ibom State also lost his life in the fatal accident that has again brought to the fore the dangers that litters our roads.
Godfrey who tied the nuptial knots few years back, became a force to reckon with after winning several tournaments on the tour. Many believed since settling down Godfrey has truly realized his potentials and needs few adjustments to his game before hitting it big in the continent. But fate cut short this promise as the Abuja based IBB Golf and Country Club member met his untimely death on his way to Minna.
According to some PGAN officials, Abdullahi a muslim was taken to his home town in Zaria where he was buried according muslim rites.
Dominic Andrew, PGA Tournament Director described Ali and Christian as the best pro golfers presently in the country and their demise was a huge loss to both the PGANÂ and golf in Nigeria.
â€œAli brought a lot of attention to the game with his style of play and finesse. His quiet demeanour stood him out of the crowd and his ability to achieve any set objective also made him a player to watch in any tournament. He exudes great confidence and skill that many admire and itâ€™s such a pity that he is today no more with us. We, the golfing community will definitely miss himâ€, Andrew said.
Andrew Oche Odoh will never forget the defeat handed to him at the 2006 President Cup in Asaba where Ali Abdullahi proved beyond doubt that he is a great player. Odoh was the favourite to finish on top of the leaderboard and had done so for three days but like a bolt of the blues, Zaria based Abdullahi and a close friend of Odoh did the unthinkable, winning the tournament with a huge 12 under par , a feat that saw Odoh finish second.
â€œThree days ago, we were discussing how we would up our game so that we could make it to the European and Asian Tour. Ali had his eyes fixed on the European Tour and I was also hoping to break into the Asian Tour and we discussed at length how we would achieve that. In Cameroon, Ali won the tournament and weÂ plannedÂ to celebrate the feat. Godfrey and myself finished joint seventh and we were throwing flakes at each other. Myself and Ali were to travel together toÂ Minna but he had a last minute change of mind and decided to travel with Christian.
Today my friend is no more. The plans we had to get a Nigerian play on the Europe or Asia Tour has been put on hold. Ali and Godfrey are two of the best players in the country today and their demise is still unbelievable.Â I cannot believe my friend who we slept in the sameÂ room is today six feet under the ground. Its a sad day for golf in the countryâ€, Odoh said.
Like Ali, Odoh and Andrew poured encomium on Godfrey who turned pro in 2001. Godfreyâ€™s relevance has never been in question. His victories at the President Cup in Port Harcourt and in Uyo, Akwa Ibom last year was described as spectacular by the President of the Nigeria golf Federation Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
â€œIn Godfrey, we have lost a courageous golfer. When his form dropped, he never gave up. He trained very hard and returned to winning ways a feat that saw him climb to the top of the PGA rankng. We would definitely miss himâ€, Andrew said.