Francis Epe of Ikoyi Club 1938 fended off a stiff challenge from Ghana’s Vincent Torgah to win the Meristem Open at the weekend 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 in late 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 naira prize purse in the inaugural event of the Professional Golfers’ Development Tour that is being promoted by Meristem Securities.
Wole Abegunde, the group managing director of Meristem Securities, said it was a privilege for him and his team to lead the resurgence of interest in professional golf and he believes the result will 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 tents 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.
“We would be getting our friends and partners to support this venture as a way to develop the game and invest in the future of our great country.” He said.
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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.
Peter Akakasiaka, Nigeria’s most celebrated professional golfer, was also at the launch of the Professional Golfers’ developmental Tour, where he canvassed support for the Tour, saying Nigeria has better players than him, and he believes they will bring honour to the country if supported.
“This Tour project is dear to me and I believe it’s 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 and will bring honour fame and prosperity to all stakeholders.” He said.
The Meristem Open is the first event on the Tour and organisers have assured that at least four more events will be hosted on the stable before the golfing season is over.
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