Medal-hungry Makokha tastes bronze on Brazilian golf course

Former Kenya Amateur Matchplay champion Isaac Ogolla Makokha after winning bronze in the Deaflympics Games on Wednesday in Brazil. [Kelly Ayodi, Standard]

An enthusiastic Kenyan crowd broke into song and dance at the par 72 Caxias Do Sul Golf Club in Brazil after former Kenya Amateur Matchplay champion Isaac Ogolla Makokha braved the chilly weather to lift bronze at the ongoing 24th Summer Deaflympics Games on Wednesday evening.

Makokha beat Nico Guldan of Germany by 2-up (two holes) to win the medal in a see-saw affair that went up to the wire.

Makokha had a slow start in the crunch play-off, giving the German a lee-way to go up almost immediately.

It was not until the 12th hole that Makokha managed to eclipse his rival from the lead.

But this was short-lived as the German ensured parity on the 13th before Makokha went one up again on the 15th.

Makokha, who was cheered on by a sizeable Kenyan crowd that walked with him along the entire course, held on to that one hole lead to the final 18th hole, which he won to end the game with a 2-up victory.

“I thank God for my first ever medal in the Deaflympics, this is a dream come true,” Makokha said.

“Guldan was a worthy opponent, he was tough, his game was good, he almost beat me,” he said.

“My performance in holes 15, 16 and 18 won me the game.”

The 29-year-old father of one thanked the Kenyan fans for their support.

“I was not going to let them down, that’s why I had to do whatever it takes to win this game,” he said.

Makokha said his lowest moment in the clash was when he was 4-down but what kept his faith strong was the crowd that cheered him on.

“They did not leave, they believed in my capabilities, they kept walking and encouraging me. I soon got my groove back, returned myself to the game and held on to the final hole,” he said.

The handicap 0.8 player said his good preparations at the par 71 Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi ahead of the tournament helped him improve on his fifth-place ranking in the last edition of the global championships in Samsun, Turkey, in 2017.

His next plan will be to plot on how to beat two-time Deaflympics and World champion John Allen of Germany, who eliminated him in the semifinals in Brazil.

“Allen is a tough guy, he was getting birdies as I scored pars. He’s an international player doing his thing in the European Tour series. When I go back home, I’ll train hard to improve my game,” Makokha said.

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