Nuwara-Eliya Golf Club Championship 2021: Haroon, Chanaka and Ranil top contenders
By Special Correspondent
Golf is back! This time in the cooler up country in Nuwara Eliya when the 86th Nuwara-Eliya Golf Club (NEGC) Championship takes place on 26 and 27 February at the Nuwara Eliya Golf Course. More than 100 golfers are expected to take part in this annual blue-ribbon event under strict health guidelines by the NEGC.
Tee off will be at 7.00 a.m. on both days.
Defending champions Sachin de Silva (men’s) and evergreen Niloo Jayathilake (women’s) will be seen in action at this event. Three more top class golfers, Haroon Aslam, Chanaka Perera and Ranil Pieris will provide stiff competition to the defending men’s champion.
Initial days play will see round one being worked off, and the second day the final round.
*Two days of stroke play where the overall champion will be decided on the best gross score.
*Players will compete for the Gold Medal which is awarded for the best gross score on day two. The Gold Medal is also a Board event.
*Men’s and Ladies’ events will take place concurrently. Segment will see all three - A, B and C - worked off along with the Ladies’ event
History of the Cup
NEGC Championship dates back to 1933 when Ceylon was under the British Empire. The Scottish, Irish, British and Wales nationals during that period were mainly Planters.
M.H.Lushington was the inaugural champion, followed by W.S. Burnett in 1934, 1936, 1937, & 1940. C.G. Thornton won in 1935 & 38 followed by A.R. Aitken who won in 1939 & 1941.
Due to the 2nd World War the Championship was not played between 1942 -1945.
All winners of the Club Championship also won the Amateur Championship of Ceylon, proving that the best golfers were the contenders for the Club Champion status.
When the Championship re-commenced J.B. McLachlan won in 1946, and subsequently in 1949, 1950 & 1958. In between the Legendary Pin Fernando became the first Ceylonese to win the NEGC Championship in 1947, and of course, became NEGC Champion on four other occasion (1968, 1969, 1970 & 1973).
C. Upali Senanayake was the second Ceylonese to become Club Champion when he won in 1954 and again in 1961 & 1962. R.L. Illangakoon was the third when he annexed the title in 1957 and again ten years later in 1967.
M.J. Robinson (1959 & 1960) and A.R.D. Trewin a long hitting Scotsman (1971 & 1972) were the last of the British Empire to win the title, and from then-on Sri Lankan’s dominated the Club Championship.
Sohli Captain became the first to rattle-off a hat-trick of wins becoming Champion in 1975, 1976 & 1977. Dr. C. Thurairaja (78,79, 85), W.J.D. Barsenbach (81 & 82), Priath Fernando 1980, Pheroze Billimoria (84, 86, 91, 92), S. Ritchie (87 & 88), K. Nandasena Perera 89 & 90, prior to winning the Beijing Asian Games Silver Medal in 1990, J.C. Lee (93 & 94), Alain Gyi (95, 99, 2000), Rusi Captain - who holds the record for the highest number of NEGC Championship titles;nine in total (96, 97, 98, 2001, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06) that may not be overhauled in Nuwara Eliya. The Championship was not played in 2007 and K. Prabagaran was crowned Champ in 2008 & 2009 before he turned Professional on the PGTI.
Youngsters took over with Amrithde Soysa winning the Championship in 2010, 2011 & 2013. Zen Dharmaratne in 2012 and Prashan Peiris, another promising youngster, in 2014.The evergreen Ranil Peiris captured the title in 2015, 2016 and 2018, whilst Sachinde Silva won in between in 2017 and 2019.