The prestigious Royal Colombo Golf Club (RCGC) founded as the Colombo Golf Club in 1879, conducted the 99th RCGC Golf Championship and the year 2020 continued to serve up surprises after the epic action of mother nature ‘locked down’ the world with the COVID-19 pandemic, what is just about blowing over at least in Sri [...]


Young ones steal limelight at RCGC Club Championship

14-year-old Yannik Kumara is 2020 Men’s winner // Kayla Perera emerge Ladies champ for second time

Kayla and Yannik with their trophies and RCGC officials

The prestigious Royal Colombo Golf Club (RCGC) founded as the Colombo Golf Club in 1879, conducted the 99th RCGC Golf Championship and the year 2020 continued to serve up surprises after the epic action of mother nature ‘locked down’ the world with the COVID-19 pandemic, what is just about blowing over at least in Sri Lanka.

The diminutive, athletic, ‘pocket-missile’ of Sri Lanka Golf, Yannik Kumara, launched his presence on the senior stage in exemplary fashion qualifying for the knockout stage of the RCGC Club Championship with an impressive two under par gross 69 to be second seeded behind the defending RCGC champion Sachin de Silva, who earned top seed ranking by virtue of a 3 under par 68.

In a tightly contested knockout draw of the top 16 qualifiers, Rusi Captain, the 14-time champ and senior sportsman in the field-qualified unnoticed and seeded fourth, worked his way in to the final defeating Nirekh Tejwani, the other sensational 14-year-old in the field in a very tight finish on the 18th hole.

The win could be considered as young Nirekh lost the game on the 18th failing to birdie the last being just short of the green with his drive whilst Rusi Captain holed a stunning 30 footer for a birdie to snatch victory. The win for Captain seemed destiny was on his side to make win number 15 after overcoming Sachin de Silva 2&1 in the semi-final to meet Yannik Kumara in the final.

Yannik, on the other hand was playing in only his second RCGC Club Championship, having qualified and lost in the semi-final last year. Yannik won his pre-quarter match over Chandana Gunasekera 5&4 easily, then he beat Arvind Fernando 2&1, in the quarter-final and had to battle hard to defeat the long-hitting strong contender Chanaka Perera 1 Up despite the fact that Chanaka reeled off five birdies against young Yannik. So, with the baptism of fire 14-year-old marched in to the 36 Hole final to meet the goliath of RCGC golf, the 14-time winner with loads of experience having featured in 22 finals before and being victorious on 14 occasions.

With a large crowd in attendance, probably tensed on the occasion of the Club Championship final, Yannik was quickly 2 down after the 5th hole, having lost the first, won the second but lost the third and fifth and then seemed to compose himself and drove the green on the sixtth to birdie and make the match one down after halving the next three holes in par, the match was tightly placed with Captain still 1 Up playing the 10th where the turning point of the 36-hole final happened.

Captain putted on the green to lose the 10th to a bogey and square the final on the 11th tee. Young Yannik just about came in to his own and simply played steady golf to par the rest of the morning round and built a comfortable 4 Up lead going in to the break and the afternoon 18 holes.

If there was hope that Captain’s experience and Yannik’s nerves of a ‘first’ final would get in the way, there was no doubt about the quiet competence and confidence of the youngster, who positively displayed maturity in the afternoon round. He played steady uncomplicated golf and made par to extend the morning lead to 7 Up after 26 holes.

Then a glimmer of hope occurred when Captain sank a 30-footer birdie on the 27th (Par 3-9th) whilst Yannik missed his birdie from under 10 feet. Yannik 6 Up. Then the misery hole of the morning for Captain undid him again and Yannik’s par was good enough to make it 7 Up again and Yannik sealed a most emphatic and memorable victory with another par on the 29th hole the Par 4-11th, to be crowned the RCGC Club champion for 2020 by the resounding margin of 8&7.

Yannik enters the record books as the second 14-year-old to win the Club Championship with Amrith de Soysa, maintaining his record as the youngest to win the RCGC Club Championship becoming Club champion at three months younger than Yannik.

Nevertheless, the emphatic triumph of Yannik augurs well for the game of golf in Sri Lanka, with his sights firmly set on a career as a professional golfer. The joyous Yannik lost for words in his moment of joy and relief said that he wasn’t ready last year but after a lot of hard work, practice and training he thought he could win the championship this year after he qualified with a 2 under par 69 and was seeded number 2. Speaking further he confirmed that he definitely wished to turn Pro in time and bring glory to Sri Lanka in the USPGA Tour.

Meanwhile, 17-year-old Kayla Perera, battling a wrist injury and lack of practice due to COVID-19 and studies, powered her way to her second victory in the RCGC Ladies Golf Championship defeating the ‘evergreen’ Anouk Chitty in the final 2 Up. It was a close battle but Kayla displayed guts and determination to hold-off all the experience of Anouk to join Yannik in the ‘youth’ takeover of the RCGC Championship of the Men’s and Ladies.

The RCGC, under the glamorous stewardship of Captain Navin de Silva, deserve a bouquet for the immaculate condition of the golf course, maintained under duress in the difficult period and the smooth running of the championship with a flair of style and pageantry, with the prize giving laced with a touch of prestige with the winners adorned in blazers and receiving a framed photograph unveiled as the reigning Men’s and Ladies Club champions of the RCGC.

The young winners also made a brief ‘Winners Speech’ like at Augusta in the world stage. Both winners spoke with simplicity eloquent enough to thank family and friends for the support they received and both winners with one voice acknowledged and thanked “Uncle Jehan, their coach of 10 and a half years” for all the guidance and preparation to make this victory happen.

A salute to the quiet unassuming head coach and Head of Golf at the RCGC, Jehan de Saram, for grooming the youngsters to carry the Lion flag high into the future. It is also appropriate to mention a few Ladies at the RCGC, who have battled much to give junior golf every opportunity to succeed spending endless hours looking after the ‘naughty playful kids’ nurturing them to play golf and developing junior golf through the RCGC.

99th RCGC Championship 2020 Final Results:
RCGC Men’s Club Champion 2020: Yannik Kumara (8&7)

Runner-up: Rusi Captain

RCGC Ladies Club Champion 2020: Kayla Perera (2&1)

Runner-up: Anouk Chitty

Seniors Division:

Winner: Chamath J. Kulasinghe (146 Nett)

Runner-up: Christopher Dias (147 Nett)

Masters Division:

Winner: Bandula Weerasinghe (137 Nett)

Runner-up: Michael Beamish (143 Nett)

Bronze Division:

Winner: Maj. Gen. Jagath Gunawardena (138 Nett)

Runner-up: Prof. A. H. Sheriffdeen (142 Nett)

Silver Division:

Winner: Tharanga Gunasekera (140 Nett)

Runner-up: Liu Qiyun (141 Nett)

Ladies Bronze Cup:

Winner: V. Fowler Watt (19th)

Runner-up: Fran de Mel


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