Kathmandu, May 16
Amateur Sukra Bahadur Rai won the Surya Nepal Premier Golf Championship to become the first golfer to bag two major titles in a single season here at the Gokarna Golf Club today.
The national team member from Dharan, Rai carded five-under 67 in the final round for the 72-hole total of 11-under 277 and edged past defending champion Bhuwan Nagarkoti — who also carded a 67 — by one stroke in the gruelling final round. He had defeated Nepal No 1 pro Shivaram Shrestha to win the Surya Nepal Eastern Open to win his first major title in December last year.
Nagarkoti, who had finished behind another amateur Subash Tamang in the Surya Nepal Challenge in March, however, finished at the top of the Order of Merit after he walked away with the cheque of Rs 230,000.
Nagarkoti, who failed to win a single event this season but pocketed highest amount of Rs 663,000 in the nine events of the Surya Nepal Golf Tour 2018-19, will be the new No 1 pro for the next season.
Rai began the day with one shot cushion and extended the lead to two strokes over Nagarkoti but was level with fellow amateur Subash Tamang after front nine. Rai carded four-under 32, while Tamang shot five-under 31 and Nagarkoti played three-under 33 before taking the turn.
As Tamang faltered on the back nine, Rai extended the lead to three shots over Nagarkoti after 15th hole.
By that time, Tamang was all but out of the race after losing four shots. Nagarkoti cut the deficit to two with a birdie on the 16th and Rai wasted a shot on the next after his approach shot landed into the hazard.
Nagarkoti got a chance to at least force a playoff after Rai saw his approach shot spin back to more than 20 feet down the cup and the amateur golfer reached within five feet of the hole with his putter. But Nagarkoti missed the birdie putt from around 15 feet and Rai took his time to roll the ball into the cup to ignite a loud cheer from the gallery. Rai pumped his fist in celebration as he became the first amateur winner of the Surya Nepal Premier.
Rai carded a total of six birdies — second, third, sixth, seventh, 10th and 11th holes — and his only blemish came on the 17th hole where he faced a bogey after his approach shot landed into the hazard. Nagarkoti also carded four birdies — second, third, seventh and ninth — on the front nine but he was undone by a bogey on the eighth. He added two more birdies on the latter half earning shots on the 12th and 16th holes.
Bikash Adhikari finished second among pros with the score of evenpar 288 and he earned Rs 140,000, while Dhana Bahadur Thapa was third at two-over 290 earning Rs 95,000. Sanjon Moktan, a Nepali pro from Brunei, shared the fourth position with Ramesh Adhikari, who recently returned from Malaysia, with the score of four-over 292 and the duo earned Rs 73,000 each.
First-round leader Jayaram Shrestha, Rame Magar and Rabi Khadka shared the sixth position at 293 and they received Rs 57,833 each, while four pros — Krishna Man Rajbahak, Chuda Bahadur Bhandari, Sanjay Lama and Surya Prasad Sharma — were tied for ninth at 296. They earned Rs 42,750 each.
With the second-place finish, Bikash Adhikari moved to third position in the Order of Merit with the total earning of Rs 411,333. Sanjay Lama dropped down to fourth with Rs 386,500, while Dhana Bahadur Thapa was fifth with the earning of Rs 381,167.
Nepal No 1 pro Shivaram Shrestha, who won three events and had earned Rs 460,000 before skipping the last four events, finished second in the Order of Merit for the first time in nine years. Shrestha had held the No 1 position since regaining the status in 2010-11 season after Rabi Khadka dethroned him in 2009-10 season.
In amateur section, 17-year-old Tamang, who carded five birdies in a bogey-free front nine before facing five bogeys in the latter half, finished second behind Rai with the total score of five-under 283. Tashi Tshiring came third with one-over 289 after he played a round of three-over 75.
In all, 60 golfers — 40 pros and 20 amateurs — took part in the ninth and final event of the Surya Nepal Golf Tour that carried a purse of Rs 1.26 million. Surya Nepal Pvt Ltd Managing Director Abhimanyu Poddar, Vice-president, Marketing, Dipra Lahiri and Advisor of Nepal PGA Ghana Shyam Thapa gave away prizes to the winners.
Meanwhile, Surya Nepal Pvt Ltd rewarded amateur golfers — Sukra Bahadur Rai, Tanka Bahadur Karki and Subash Tamang — who won four out of the nine events of the season. President of Nepal Golf Association Tashi Ghale handed over the gift hampers to the golfers.