Thapa, Lama earn share of lead

Kathmandu, June 5

Dhana Bahadur Thapa and Sanjay Lama carded seven-under 65 to share the opening round lead of the Surya Nepal Premier Golf Championship here at the Gokarna Golf Club today.

Both the pros carded eight birdies — five on the front and three on the latter half — and suffered a bogey each as they began the season-ending tournament on a high although they are just one stroke ahead of Nepal No 1 pro Shivaram Shrestha, who carded a bogey-free six-under 66.

After saving pars on the first two holes, the Tribhuvan Army Officers Golf Club pro Thapa carded three straight birdies before adding two on the seventh and ninth to take the turn at five-under 31. He shot two-under 34 on the back nine with the help of birdies on the 12th, 15th and 17th against a bogey on the par-3 16th hole where he three-putted from six yards.

“It was a perfect day for golfing as the conditions suited us although the game was halted for some time due to rain,” said Thapa. “Apart from the 16th hole where I three-putted for a bogey, I played well and I am satisfied with the score,” he added.

Lama made a brilliant start with two straight birdies and went on to card three more on the fourth, sixth and seventh holes as he took the turn at five-under 31. He went six-under with a birdie on the 10th before facing a bogey on the next hole. But he amended the error with birdies on the 12th and 15th holes to finish the back nine at two-under 34.

Like Thapa and Lama, reigning No 1 pro Shrestha also carded five-under 31 on the front nine and he shot one-under 35 on the back nine to be one stroke off the pace. Shrestha made a bright start with a birdie and saved par on the next hole before carding two straight birdies on the third and fourth. After a break of around one hour due to torrential rain, Shrestha saved shots on the seventh and ninth before taking the turn. On the back nine, the RNGC pro carded a lone birdie on the 12th hole.

Amateur golfer Sukra Bahadur Rai was further one stroke behind at fourth position at four-under 68. The Dharan-based golfer, who is currently No 1 in the amateur ranking, played one-under 35 on the front nine before carding three-under 33 on the latter half. He faced a double bogey six on the second and a bogey on the fourth holes but recovered well with birdies on third and three consecutive from the seventh hole. On the back nine, Rai carded birdies on the 12th, 16th and 18th holes.

On a day when 12 players broke the par, Surya Prasad Sharma carded three-under 69 to remain four strokes off the pace, while three golfers — RNGC’s Rame Magar, Gokarna’s Bhuwan Nagarkoti and Bal Bhadra Rai of Dharan — were tied on sixth position at one-under 71. Three pros — Tirtha Poudel, Rajendra Thapa Magar and Chuda Bahadur Bhandari — and amateur golfer Vijay Shrestha Einhaus shared ninth position at even-par 72.

In all, 48 golfers, including 36 pros and 12 amateurs, are taking part in the eighth and final tournament under the Surya Nepal Golf Tour 2017-18. The cut will be applied after the second round with top 24 pros and six amateurs making it to the final two rounds. The 72-hole event carries a cash purse of Rs 1.2 million with top three pros receiving Rs 220000, Rs 134,000 and Rs 90,000 respectively.