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Nuwara Eliya to host 114th Burdett Trophy this weekend

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Untitled-2From left: RCGC Burdett Captain Primal Wijayanayake, Dialog Axiata Group Chief Officer – Enterprise Business Jerome Huxtable, NEGC 125th Anniversary Captain Firaz Hameed, NEGC Burdett Captain Maj. Gen. Srinath Rajapakse, NEGC Puffin Captain Rohina Macan Marker

By Madushka Balasuriya

After a three-year absence, the Nuwara Eliya Golf Club (NEGC) will once again play host to the Burdett Trophy and Puffin Cup this weekend, with defending champions Royal Colombo Golf Club (RCGC) looking to take the spoils for a third straight year. 

This year’s competition, which is set to take place on 17 July, will see the participation of at least 120 golfers and will be the 114th iteration of the Burdett Trophy and the 80th Puffin Cup.

The Burdett Trophy, which was first held in 1902, is one of the oldest golf competitions in the world contested between two teams, second only to the Ryder Cup between the US and Europe. Captaining the NEGC team for the Burdett will be Maj. Gen. Srinath Rajapakse, with Primal Wijayanayake leading RCGC.

As is the tradition, the teams for the Burdett Trophy will be announced the day before the competition, with the team captains conducting the draw at the first tee on the morning of the competition.

“All of us (captains) are members of both clubs but once a year we take part in the Burdett and divide ourselves among the two clubs. Most of the members of NEGC and RCGC are the same, but we compete for our designated clubs depending on the teams that are chosen,” explained RCGC Captain Primal Wijayanayake.

Currently golf in Sri Lanka is not a widely accessible sport, giving rise to situations such as that mentioned by Wijayanayake, where it’s a select few playing the sport at the highest level in the country. However, NEGC Captain Maj. Gen. Srinath Rajapakse hopes tournaments such as this and other development programs will help raise awareness of the sport in the country.

“A lot of people feel that golf is a rich man’s game, but we are trying to bring it to normal schools through junior golfing. It has started in Colombo, Nuwara Eliya and Kandy. We want to share the knowledge and unearth talented golfers at a young age. We want to see golf improve in Sri Lanka,’ he said. Meanwhile, The Puffin Cup, which has been taking place annually since 1936, will see female members from both clubs compete, with Rohina Macan Marker captaining NEGC and Radha Sundarampillai taking the reins for RCGC.

The teams contesting the Burdett Trophy will comprise 12 players each, all of whom will contest in 4 foursome matches and 8 singles matches on NEGC’s challenging par 71 course. The Puffin Cup will meanwhile be played as 4 foursome matches and 4 singles matches. 

Alongside the two main tournaments, Sunday will also see the Masters and 125th Anniversary competitions. Firaz Hameed and Priyath Fernando will captain the NEGC and RCGC teams respectively, while in the Masters category NEGC will be captained by Christopher Dias and RCGC by Shiran de Soysa. Dialog Enterprise, who are the principal sponsors of the NEGC, will also be sponsoring Sunday’s event.

“It’s a privilege for Dialog to be associated with such an old and established competition. I hope in the future that fact is more widespread, with the world being made aware of it actually being one of the oldest tournaments still being played,” said Group Chief Officer Enterprise Business at Dialog Jeremy Huxtable.

“Golf is a sport that can bring people together. And hopefully in the next couple of years Dialog will be able to support the development programs in the country.  With 20 million people, Sri Lanka has a fantastic cricket team. There’s no reason why you can’t have three or four very successful golfers,” he added.

Pix by Waruna Wanniarachchi

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