The Sri Lanka Juniors beat the Pakistan Juniors in a thrilling finish to the inaugural HSBC International Junior Golf Championship, played in the Ryder Cup match play format, organised by the Sri Lanka Golf Union and sponsored by HSBC.
The HSBC International Junior Golf Championship commenced with the individual event attracting 100 entries in four age groups, laying the platform for the Team Championships on the following day.
The Sri Lanka Golf Union International two-member Team Championship played on a stroke play format, saw the participation of teams from Bangladesh (two teams), Pakistan and Sri Lanka (three teams). It was worked off during the morning session, preceded by the traditional rendering of the three national anthems, the lighting of the oil lamp and the flag-hoisting ceremony.
The Pakistan Junior boys dominated the two-member stroke play Team Championship, winning the SLGU Junior International Team Championship with the ‘A’ Team comprising Ahmed Baig(70) and Saqib (77) with an aggregate gross score of 147, five strokes clear of the Pakistan ‘B’ team of Damil Ataulla (77) and Junaid Irfan (75) whilst third place went to the Sri Lankan pair of Januka Dilshan (74) and T. Akash (79).
However, in the afternoon session, Pakistan faced Sri Lanka in a match play showdown to determine the Team Champions of the HSBC International Junior Golf Championship 2017.
The six-member teams comprising four boys and two girls representing Pakistan and Sri Lanka played six singles and Sri Lanka won quite comprehensively in the end by 4.5 points to 1.5 points out of a maximum of six points. Nonetheless, the final was gallantly fought out until the final hole, which was a closer battle than the final margin of victory suggested.
Sri Lankan Team Captain Januka Dilshan registered the first points for the team with a comfortable 5 and 3 win over Saqib, whilst Kayla Perera recorded the biggest margin of victory, defeating Rimsha Ijaz 6 and 5. Armand Flamer Caldera registered a narrow but emphatic 1 up victory over Damil Ataulla, while Vinod Weerasinghe made a birdie on the 18th to halve his match against Junaid Irfan, having been one down playing the last hole.
Taniya Minel Balasuriya was made to fight for her victory all the way by Suneya Osama who sank some amazing putts throughout the game to hold Taniya all square playing the 18th. Taniya held her nerve whilst making several three putts and eventually won the 18th despite another three putt to seal the final flight with a one up win for Sri Lanka.
The thrilling Match Play Junior Golf Team Championship International Final was followed by an enthusiastic crowd and the junior golfers set the golf course ablaze with an entertaining finale to the inaugural HSBC Junior Golf Team Championship.
The awards ceremony was enlivened by the presence of distinguished invitees representing the principal sponsors of the event. HSBC CEO Mark Prothero presented the HSBC Sri Lanka International Junior Golf Championship, International Team Championship trophy and medals to the winners and runners-up.
Imorich Brand Manager Kasun Gunaratne, Ravi Tejwani representing MAS Kreeda, the Sri Lanka representative for Callaway Golf Chandana Weerasinghe, Vice Captain Royal Colombo Golf Club Avancka Herath, President of the Sri Lanka Golf Union Priath Fernando and Chairperson SLGU Junior Subcommittee Niloo Jayatilake gave away the trophies, awards and certificates to the winners and international participants, to make history in the annals of Sri Lanka junior golf, establishing a springboard to develop Sri Lankan golf from the junior level.
The event was cosponsored by MAS Kreeda, the clothing sponsor, Cinnamon Hotels the accommodation sponsor, IMORICH from Elephant House the indulgence sponsor, Olu Water the beverage sponsor and Callaway the equipment sponsor.
Sri Lanka Golf Union Junior Golf Team Championship 2017
Winners: Pakistan 1 - Ahmed Baig 70, Saqib 77, aggregate 147
First runner-up: Pakistan 2 – Damil Ataulla 77, Junaid Irfan 75, aggregate 152
Second runner-up: Sri Lanka 1 - J. K. Januka Dilshan 74, T. Akash 79, Aggregate 153
Gold Division Boys (Age Group 15-18 years)
Winner: Ahmed Baig (Pak) 73 Gross
1st runner-up: Saqib (Pak) 74 Gross
2nd runner-up: Januka Dilshan (SL) 75 Gross
Silver Division Boys (Age Group 12-14 years)
Winner: Damil Ataulla (Pak) 80 Gross
1st Runner-up: Dilshan Malinda 85 Gross (Count back)
2nd Runner-up: K. Danushan 85 Gross
Gold/Silver combined Division Girls (Age Group 15-18+) and (Age Group 12-14+)
Winner: Taniya Minel Balasuriya 78 Gross
1st Runner-up: Kayla Perera 79 Gross
2nd Runner-up: Nashima Akhter (Ban) 82 Gross
Bronze Division (Age Group 10 – 11+ years) 14 Holes
Winner: Nirekh Tejwani 63 Gross
1st Runner-up: Pranav Muralidaran 73 Gross (count back)
2nd Runner-up: Shanal Binushka 73 Gross
Copper Division (Age Group 9+ & under) 9 Holes
Winner: Reshan Algama 44 Gross
1st Runner-up: Shinuka Fernando 47 Gross (count back)
2nd Runner-up: Kaya Daluwatte 47 Gross
HSBC Premier Category winners
Gold Division Boys/Girls Premier Junior Winner (Age Group 15-18+) - Vihan De Alwis
Silver Boys/Girls Junior Premier Winner (Age Group 12-14+) - Kayla Perera
Bronze Junior Premier Winner (Age Group 10-11+) – Nirekh Tejwani
Copper Junior Premier Winner (Age Group 9+ and under) – Reshan Algama
The Best Overall Premier Junior Golfer for 2017 - Armand Flamer Caldera
-Pix by Shehan Gunasekera