Mithun strikes it rich at the RCGC

By Rangi Akbar
Mithun Perera with the RCGC Championship Cup 2009.

Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) struck it rich at the Royal Colombo Golf Club (RCGC) Championships this year.
The finals were worked off between Mithun and Zen Dharmarathne and Mithun got the better of Dharmarathne 13 up. Mithun has also qualified to play at the 09th SAARC Games to be held in New Delhi India this year. Mithun Perera was the defending Champion at the Previous SAARC Games held in Nepal in 2007.

Expressing views Mithun said that he was confident that he would be able to bring the highest glory to Sri Lanka at the SAARC Games this year.

Mithun has also been invited to participate in the up coming 2009 Asia-Pacific Open Golf Championship Panasonic Open to be held from in Osaka in Japan. The invitation has been sent upon his recent victory at the Mission Hills Asia Pacific Open Amateur Golf Championship held last January in China.

For Mithun to come this far in golf is a long story. His father Nandasena Perera started the ball rolling in the 80’s and now Mithun is one of the top rated players in the Asian circuit. Caddies are no longer ball pickers. They are those who can rub shoulders with the game’s greatest players. For instance Nandasena Perera’s golfing links were recognized by the late Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa and he was presented with a plot of land to build his home adjacent to the Royal Colombo Golf Club.
But whose idea was it to promote caddies? The Sunday Times launched an in depth study into the subject and found Ana Punchihewa at the crux of it. Punchihewa, looking fit as ever, came up with the suggestion: “Somebody had to get Nandasena Perera the membership to participate in foreign contests. I spoke to the RCGC members in the 80’s and finally managed to break the ice. Nandasena Perera has been making it big in the professional scene and now his son Mithun is following suit. There are other caddies who are on the brink of big things to come,” said Punchihewa.

Punchihewa, an outstanding player himself, also has the idea of getting schoolboys and girls involved in the game. The initial project will be from the Nuwara Eliya Golf Club, where Ana Punchihewa is a key member. “I want lads and lasses in the age group of 14 or so to be in this initial move,” he said. When pointed out that things may not be that easy in Colombo, Punchihewa said: “I know. Let the move begin from Nuwara Eliya and let it catch on gradually.” There is a lot of potential in golf and Punchihewa is keen as mustard to catch it and launch it so that the golfers and the country can benefit from it.
According to Punchihewa if Nandasena Perera had not struck it rich in the Asian golfing circuit, the Royal Colombo Golf Club may have lost its premises. “President Premadasa was looking at the vast expanse of land to build houses. But Nandasena Perera’s success in golf gave other vistas to the game.”
As it is the RCGC is now thriving and giving a whole lot of employment to its huge staff.

When it comes to spotting talent and nurturing them Ana Punchihewa could be the man anyone could be looking at. He was Vice President of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka in 1994 and finally was elected President in February 1995 taking over from the late Minister Gamini Dissanayake who counts many cricketing firsts. Then of course came 1996 where Sri Lanka emerged World Cup champions opening the doors wide for the game.
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