by LAL GUNESEKERA
K. Prabhakaran is his name. He is a budding golfer and has no connections with LTTE supremo Prabhakaran. Golfer Prabhakaran is the talk of the town, both here in Colombo and in Nuwara Eliya in particular where he established his name as a golfer with a fine display to bag the Sri Lanka Amateur Open Championship which was worked off for the first time on stroke-play system on his ‘home’ course last week.
He won by 4 strokes over the strong favourite Lalith Kumara, who had a miserable fourth-round score of 80 after he even equalled the course record (65) in the third-round and scores of 73 and 66 in the first and second rounds. Prabhakaran had scores of 72, 70, 66 and 72. Both Prabhakaran and Lalith Kumara (captain of team) together with Tissa Chandradasa and Amarapathma who finished in third and fourth places respectively at Nuwara Eliya left yesterday (Saturday) to play at the Bangladesh Amateur Open Championship in Dhaka on December 11, 12, 13 and 14. This too is a stroke-play competition.
Speaking to the Sunday Observer Prabhakaran, said that he returned from Abu Dhabi after a two-year stint as Course Marshall at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club in July. He said that he did not get the opportunity of playing frequently in Abu Dhabi (he figured in only two tournaments in the two years) and decided to return to his motherland. The Sri Lanka Open Amateur Championship was his first big success.
Prabhakaran, who is now 23-years-old, started golf when he was only eight years of age. As usual, where these caddies are concerned, their home was near the NEGC and seeing the “mahathayas” playing this sport, he too got interested. He studied at St. Xavier’s in Nuwara Eliya, but only upto Year nine and since his first tournament in 1992, has been gradually climbing the ladder of success, by winning all the titles for offer at the NEGC for the Caddies. He won at the Victoria GC too in 2001 and was richly awarded with a Honda motorcycle.
His late father was involved in the vegetable trade, while his mother worked as a farm hand.
Prabhakaran’s elder brother, Savundraraja (24) too played golf in Sri Lanka, but he too is now serving as a marshall at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club. His younger sister, Dharshini (13) is yet a student at a convent in Nuwara Eliya. Prabhakaran, who is employed at the NEGC Pro Shop is engaged to Krishnakumari who has qualified to enter university.
Prabhakaran said that he gets a lot of assistance from members of the NEGC who had even donated a set of “clubs” for his use and other equipment needed. Even the Captain of the NEGC, Sunil Jayakoddy, has helped him a lot, and was very pleased that Prabhakaran won the Sri Lanka title at Nuwara Eliya where Jayakody is the captain. Coincidentally, when the last Sri Lankan to win the title – Anura Rohana (who has now turned professional) won at the RCGC, the RCGC captain was Shiran de Soysa with Jayakoddy serving as President of SLGU, and when Prabhakaran won at Nuwara Eliya, Jayakoddy is the captain of NEGC and De Soysa the President of SLGU.
Prabhakaran’s ambitions – to bring honour to the country and not let down the persons who have been helping him right along.