THE Nigerian professional golfing season did not quite open upper weekend in Ada Osun State, since no point was amassed at tournament for the associationâ€™s 40th year.
In Otukpo this weekend, the tone would be a lot different as players would be hoping to make an early impression on the ranking with their performance. And that alone makes the N4millionÂ Otukpo Open a season opener worth following.
Three-timeÂ Player of the Year, Oche Odoh who was out of steam all of last year is on parade, and for the talent he packs in his previousÂ shows, he sure would be a factor. And it is hoped that his winless form could be broken, if he hits out well at this first season ranking event.
Play started at the Par 72 St. Mark Golf Course in Akpegede on Wednesday and regular suspect, Ali Abdullahi had shot ahead with five under par (67) on a course he had closed in with nineteen under par before (in four days). Ali has won more events on the Otukpo course than any of his mates and doing it with as much as 10 stroke-margin in the past signals some rare mastery of the course that some of his peers still donâ€™t want to put up with.
Last yearâ€™s golfer of the year, Christian Godfrey, would have to forcefully demand his place too, while his bitter rival Umoh Edet, will be hoping to put to rest the comparism between the two of them.
The event if it bodes well for some players that showed promises last year may tilt the configuration of the top 10, at least for a while.
A player like Basiru Bakare has been the most consistent stranger in the top-10 last year and his form improves could alter the expectation at tournament venues.
Aba based Magnus OnumajuruÂ and Kano player Kabir Habu-Mohammed who are completing their first full year on the Tour with this event (they were admitted at the 2009 Qualifying-School) along with other inductees has left some mark in 2009 that could be interpreted as being capable of wresting the top spot from the older players.