09th February 2012, www.island.lk, By Chathura Pinnawala
Asia Pacific Senior Golf Masters Tournament, which is the first marquee PGA event in the country, organized by Sri Lankan Airlines will get underway on February 15 at the Victoria Golf and country resort in Kandy.
Over 60 professional golfers from all around the world will pack their bags to stake a claim to be the first player to win a major golf tournament in Sri Lanka. The stroke play for the actual trophy will be played on the last two days of the tournament which is February 17 and 18. The tournament commences with a practice day to shake off the rustiness followed by a Pro Am event on the 16th.
This tournament is one of Sri Lankan Airlines’ active attempts to attract tourists to the country with the sporting feel and it’s a continuation of the Rugby Sevens and Pro-Surfing tournaments they have brought to light earlier. Chairman of Sri Lankan Airlines, Nishantha Wickremasinghe said "This is not just a golf tournament. It’s a PGA event and it’s valuable. We at Sri Lankan Airlines feel this is a great way of attracting upmarket tourists to Sri Lanka. There are already plans to hold the Sri Lanka Golf classic from next year. We have brought International Rugby sevens and Pro-surfing before and are delighted to include this to our growing list of sports tourism themed products to promote the country as an exotic destination."
The venue, Victoria Golf and Country Resort with the stunning Knuckles range as the backdrop was fashioned by British architect Donald Steel and CEO of International Golf solutions, Mike Varney predicts a keen battle for prestige. "The standard of the tour is very high. Our past two winners have won with 36 hole scores of -7 and -12. The course is in supreme touch and the competitors will enjoy not only the scenery but the golf course as well."
Varney also tipped Mike Harwood as the favourite to capture the trophy while Thailand’s Jamnian Chitrasong is expected to keep Harwood on his toes. Harwood is a former USA PGA tour card holder and a former PGA champion of European Tour while Chitrasong is the winner of the recent Asia pacific champion tour. Both are in divine touch as Harwood clinched the Perth Masters and Chitrasong the winner of the APCT player’s championship. "With Jamnian and Harwood in the reckoning, it’s going to a great dual. These two guys will take some catching." Varney said.
Sri Lankan Airlines’ sports tourism drive to promote niche markets, is also aimed at supporting Sri Lanka’s ambitious target of attracting 2.5 million holidaymakers by 2016.
Image: Sri Lankan Airlines Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe (3rd from left) briefs the media regarding the upcoming Asia Pacific Senior Golf Masters Tournament at a press conference held at Sri Lankan Airlines boardroom at World Trade Centre yesterday. Also in the picture are Victoria Golf Club General Manager Errol Johnston, (Left), Chief Marketing Officer Sri Lankan Airlines G.T Jeyaseelan, (2nd from left) and CEO of International Golf Solutions Mike Varney. (Pic by Dimuthu Premaratne).
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