Featurish curtain raiser

Kathmandu, June 4:

His deep voice comes out as if his throat is being strangled. A golf club in his hand does not justify his looks which are more of a boxer. But I believe he has been delivering some obnoxiously strong punches on the golf course and has become the talk of the golfing circle in Nepal.

Shiva Ram Shrestha, 24, has captured everything on the plate offered by the newly launched Surya Nepal Golf Tour by winning back-to-back titles and stunning everybody with his driving prowess.

Shrestha teed off in the Surya Nepal Masters 2008 with everybody’s hopes pinned on him. This will be his real test as he probably has not been challenged much by the professionals on the domestic circuit. It will be an interesting dual to watch as he plays alongside Gurbaaz Mann, the pro from India who is also known for his long driving prowess. On the opening day, the fight was even until the front nine but the Chandigarh golfer caught fire on his back nine to take the first day’s honours.

“I just want to kill my driver. The thrill of seeing the ball disappear long into the fairway is the best thing in the world,” says the 24-year-old Shrestha with a gleam in his eyes that talks about his hunger for success. The love for the game even forced him to drop out of his school while he only had appeared for his fourth class exams. From being a ball boy to rubbing shoulders with some of the top professionals from the neighbouring countries, it has been a long journey of hard work for this lad who hails from a small place called Sinamangal. After winning a caddy tournament about four years ago, the pro from Royal Nepal Golf Club has never looked back. Having represented the Nepali national team in various international events, the stocky golfer trained in India for a month before spending a good nine months in Bangkok.

It did not take him long to realize his potential and turned pro about five months ago. Probably he could not resist the lure of the Surya Nepal Golf Tour which apart from giving an opportunity to the professionals to earn a living promises to nurture the budding talent. Shreshta who apart from golf loves music and work outs at the gym, has tall dreams with the US PGA Tour being his ultimate aim. To begin with, what better opportunity than the Surya Nepal Masters 2008 where he tees off to retain the glory Deepak Thapa Magar earned last year. I am sure the defending champion will not surrender the honour so easily and would be looking to avenge his defeat at the hands of the youngster in the last two tournaments.

Sayeed is Director, Tiger Sports and is writing exclusively for The Himalayan Times