PAPUA New Guinea convincingly won the Ratu Mara Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare Golf tournament at the Natadola Bay Championship golf course last weekend.
PNG won the tournament with a total tally of 928, while hosts Fiji managed 976, Fijian daily Fiji Sun reported in its Monday edition.
Melanesian chiefs from PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu flew to Nadi last weekend for the 18-hole tournament with Fiji’s top brass in the Ratu Mara Somare Cup golf challenge.
PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare led one of the biggest contingents ever to depart PNG shores for the tournament against Fiji, who had the likes of acting president Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.
Others involved in the progressive anbrose event included former ministers, dignitaries and members of the business community.
The National Gaming Control Board, Digicel and Bank South Pacific backed the tournament.
The event was held for the first time on the international championship course at Natadola Bay, on Fiji’s Coral Coast, the country’s fifth 18-hole course.
Sir Michael with a contingent of 60 including current and former politicians, government officials and business leaders flew to the Solomons, where they picked up SI PM Derek Sikua en route to Fiji.
Sir Michael told AAP the weekend was an equivalent to a “Melanesian Ashes series” as the 22-carat gold kundu (drum) trophy, worth thousands of kina, never leaves PNG regardless of the cup’s outcome.
“We have a silver version of the trophy for them if they win, the gold trophy never leaves PNG,” he said.
“The idea of the cup is to get together for Melanesian leaders, it’s not about politics, it’s about golf,” he said.
“On the golf course you have no title, so I am not a grand chief, I am a golfer,” he said.
While in Fiji, Sir Michael also travelled to the Fijian capital, Suva, to launch a book on Fiji’s late president (Ratu) Sir Kamisese Mara.
Melanesian brotherhood, as exhibited by the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), often finds itself at odds when the region gathers for meetings like the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).