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Disappointing display by Sri Lankan golfers

by LAL GUNESEKERA

It was rather out of form performance by some of Sri Lanka's top amateur golfers at the All-India Amateur Championship worked off in Kolkata (earlier Calcutta), India last week, but the only bright spot came when Sri Lanka 'A' comprising Anura Rohana and Lalith Kumara, were runners-up to South Africa who won the Team event by 3 shots.

South Africa, Sri Lanka, India and Ireland played in the Team event with Bangladesh, Australia, Malaysia, Nepal and United Kingdom withdrawing their entries at the last moment. Rohana did well for Sri Lanka with 3 under par on the first day and level par on the second, but Lalith Kumara had a 5 over on the first day and 2 over on the second. The Sri Lanka 'B' team comprised Jehan de Saram and Amarapadma.

Then in the Match-Play, Anura Rohana, who was a finalist last year, lost in the first-round itself to an Indian, while Lalith Kumara won his matches in the first two rounds, but lost in the third. De Saram too lost in the first-round, but took the eventual finalist to the 21st hole. This was won by a 18-year-old golfer from South Africa.

Sri Lanka are now scheduled to play in the Pakistan Amateur Championship in Islamabad in April this year and the Sri Lanka Golf Union (SLGU) hopes to send a team of four.

The South Asian Association of Regional Co-operation (SAARC) Team and Individual Championship is scheduled to be staged in India at the end of this month in either Delhi or Bangalore, but SLGU President, Shiran de Soysa, told the Sunday Observer that Nepal are not keen on participation and even Pakistan will not play in India due to the tensions between the two countries. He also disclosed that Sri Lanka will have to meet the air fare of its team and also pay for their meals and in the circumstances, Sri Lanka, are unlikely to go to India.

Meanwhile, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are certain of sending entries for the Sri Lanka Amateur Championship scheduled to be staged at the RCGC in September-October. South Africa too are keen on playing in Sri Lanka, but a question mark hangs over the participation of Malaysia. De Soysa said that the SLGU needs at least Rs. 1 million to conduct this tournament, and that the negotiations are on for hotel sponsorship.

Sri Lanka will also not send a team for the Queen Sirikit Cup Team and Individual Championship for Women to be staged in April in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia "as the ladies have not got themselves organised," according to officials.

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