• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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BusinessDay

MTN WGC: Creating a platform for business interaction and bonding

For the past seven years, MTN has been consistently sponsoring the game of golf in Nigeria.  This, no doubt, has contributed immensely to the development of the game.

Through this corporate support, many would-be amateur players have gone ahead to register and take their golf lessons. Many have improved on their handicaps. Many players who were on handicap 20-25 are now playing 0-5 handicap.

Apart from players improving their games, the various activities that precede each golf tournament have become veritable networking platforms to interact, and some of these interactions have translated into mutually beneficial, long lasting relationships. These have been the case since the leading ICT and Telecommunication Company took over the title sponsorship of the World Golfers Championship in 2007.

Recently, golfers of repute from around the South-West region of the country drove into Lakowe Lakes Golf Estate for the South-West Regional Qualifier of the 2014 MTN World Golfers Championship. The medal-format tournament teed off at about 8am, after the early morning rain had ceased and the course was playable.

Flight after flight, players took to the course in contest for the limited ticket to the finals, with the sun mildly shinning over the turf until sometime past noon when a heavy   downpour came drenching the players.  Considering the intensity of the rains, the players had to stop their rounds; as a result of this, everyone was scored by what the recorded at the front-nine only.

Speaking at the prize presentation ceremony, which took place after the tournament, Mike Ikpoki, CEO, MTN Nigeria, expressed satisfaction at the large turnout he met on arrival at the host club. This is because aside the fact that it was quite a distance from the regular golfing hubs, it was also a rainy day. He wittily remarked that the MTN brand, like the game of golf, is all about relationship that must be nurtured come rain or shine.

According to him, “One of our core values is relationship; we strive to build and sustain relationship with our customers, clients, trade partners and all stakeholders.  Golfers are some of our key stakeholders, so we hold them in high esteem. That is the reason we have been doing this every year to help us forge stronger bond with them all” he stated.

Golf

At the end of the game, winners were selected in the various categories. In the 0-5 category, Tim Ayomike, Handicap 2, won with a 37 net score while Olaitan Muyideen, Handicap 1, trailed him closely with a 38 net. Handicap 2 player, Remi Olukoya won the second runner-up position with 40 net score.

Niyi Latinwo beat Ogunmowoju Teju to it on countback with 34 net- both playing off handicap 5. Ogunmowoju’s 34 net score won him the first runner-up position while Frank Momoh, handicap 4 clinched the second runner-up position- all in the 6-10 category.

Tim Maguire, handicap 8, led the 11-15 category with a 33 net while the CEO of MTN Nigeria asserted with some humour that he won the second place position is in his personal capacity as Mike Ikpoki, the man, and not as the chief executive officer of the company that sponsored the event. Ladi Durojaiye came third with 36 net score.

Simon Arson, handicap 9, recorded 33 net score that made him emerge the overall winner in the 16-20 category. On countback, Karl Nash outclassed Candy Agwu, the only lady that qualified, with a 34 net score- both playing off handicap 9.

In the 21-25 category, with a 35 net, Rhett Van Zyl playing off handicap 11 won the first place by countback. Gbenga Sonusi, handicap 12, scored 36 net to place second while Jide Oredugba came 3rd by recording a 38 net score.

Also featured at the event was the golf clinic where pros Bashiru Bakare and Femi Olagbenro took non-golfing staff, guests and trade partners of MTN through basic golf lessons.

Just last weekend, of the top Nigerian golfers who converged on the Port Harcourt Club, for the Eastern Qualifiers of the World Golfers Championship, thirteen players have qualified for the national finals billed for Le’Meridian Ibom, Akwa Ibom State between September 12th -14th, 2014.

The excitement and buzz created by the tournament engulfed the entire Garden City as over one hundred players filed out with their respective teams to the tee – off point, throwing banters at each other while cleverly nursing an ambition for a slot at the Eastern Regional Qualifiers.

The gentlemen’s passion for their favourite game came to the fore as scores of business and political bigwigs teed-off to compete for the 15 slots up for grabs at the qualifiers. Though two players were disqualified in the tournament. There were three spots for each of the five categories at the event. The game was for golfers with handicaps from 0-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20 and 21-25.

At the end of the competition, 23 -year old Sunday Ajah, who incidentally is a former caddy, led the 0-5 handicap with a gross score of 85 and 80 net score to secure a ticket to the national finals. In the 6-11 category, N.D Okeya, amassed a gross score of 83 and 76 net score which was decided on count back to lead his team. Francis Demekaa and I.K Allagoa came second and third respectively.

Sunday Ajah, a 23-year-old secondary school leaver from Aba Golf Course, Abia State, won the major category, 0-5, in this year’ s MTN World Golfers’ Nigerian Championship which took place at the Ibom Golf Resort, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State over the weekend.

The former student of Boys’ Technical College, Aba, who incidentally is one of the youngest players in the tournament, came to the championship as the winner of the Eastern qualifiers. In this edition, Ajah beat his close rivals in the 0-5 category, Peter Eben-Spiff of Ikoyi Golf Club, Lagos and another young player, Abiodun Oyewoga of Sagamu Golf Club with a net score of 147 to 153 and 162 respectively.

This year’s World Golfers Championship is the 20th edition, and for 10 years, Nigeria has been participating in the championship. The winners in the five categories of the MTN World Golfers Nigerian Championship which include Sunday Ajah, Francis Demekaa, Usenobong Akpabio, Angela Uwabor and Babajide Oredugba will represent Nigeria in their respective categories at the world championship in Durban, South Africa in October this year.

Ikpoki, who also played in the 11-15 category, reiterated the company’s commitment not only to the development of the game in Nigeria, but also as a company that will continue to act as a significant economic enabler, empowering millions of Nigerians and businesses across Nigeria.

“In fact, through our innovative product offerings and value-adding services, we will continue to demonstrate our commitment to making our customers’ lives a whole lot better.

“With MTN World Golfers Championship, we provide a very exciting and competitive platform to develop the players. With all modesty, this is the biggest and best Golfers Championship in the country and we are proud of it. More so, as a brand that always encourages its customers to be better in all they do, we shall continue to give it our support,” he declared.