Four pros earn share of lead after first day

Kathmandu, May 21

Four professional golfers Sanjay Lama, Bhuwan Nagarkoti, Dinesh Prajapati and Bal Bhadra Rai all carded four-under 68 to earn the share of lead on the first day of the Surya Nepal Premier Golf Championship here at the Gokarna Golf Club today.

On a day when 17 players broke the par, Rame Magar was fifth at two-under 70, while three pros — Bikash Adhikari, Krishna Man Rajbahak and Deepak Acharya — were tied for sixth at one-under 71.

Nagarkoti, who is aiming to win the tournament and earn a chance to finish at the top of the Order of Merit, carded four-under 32 on the front nine and settled for an even-par 36 after taking the turn. He made a bright start carding two straight birdies on the second and third holes before adding two more on the seventh and ninth. On the back nine, Nagarkoti added a birdie on the 11th before facing a bogey on the 14th hole.

Lama, who took a break from his duty in the UAE to participate in the event, shot an impressive four-under 32 with the help of birdies on the third, fifth, sixth and ninth before taking the turn and saved pars on all nine holes on the back nine.

Prajapati was the best among the co-leaders on the front nine carding a bogey-free five-under 31 that included birdies on the third, fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth holes. He then shot one-over 37 on the latter half after he faced a bogey on the 15th hole.

Another co-leader, Dharan pro Rai carded three-under 33 on the front nine and added one-under 35 on the back nine. He went four-under after carding birdies on the third, fourth, sixth and seventh holes but he was undone by a bogey on the next. After taking the turn, Rai carded birdies on the 10th, 16th and 17th holes and in between faced bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes.

Defending champion Shivaram Shrestha shared the ninth position with six other pros — Dhana Bahadur Thapa, Pashupati Sharma, Chuda Bahadur Bhandari, Bhuwan Kumar Rokka, Toran Bikram Shahi and Purna Prasad Sharma — and two amateur golfers — Tanka Bahadur Karki and Prithvi Malla — at even-par 72.

Former India No 1 pro Feroz Ali Mollah began the campaign with a round of four-over 76.

Karki and Malla shared the lead in amateur section after the first round, while Subash Tamang was third at one-over 73. Ajit BK, Sunil KC and Yubraj Bhujel were tied for fourth position at two-over 74.

A total of 56 players — 42 pros and 14 amateurs — are taking part in the event. Lt Col Basanta Raj Gurung pulled out on medical grounds after playing a couple of holes. The cut will be applied after the second day with top 24 pros and six amateurs making it to the final two rounds. The 10th and final event under the Surya Nepal Golf Tour 2017-18 carries a total purse of Rs 1.26 million. Top three pros will earn Rs 230,000, Rs 140,000 and Rs 95,000 respectively.