Kathmandu, May 11
The Nepal No 1 position will be up for grabs when the Surya Nepal Premier Golf Championship tees off at the Gokarna Golf Club on Monday.
Two professional golfers Bhuwan Nagarkoti and Sanjay Lama — who are separated by just Rs 89,250 after eight events — will be fighting to become the new No 1 pro. Reigning No 1 pro Shivaram Shrestha — who is at the top of Order of Merit since 2010-11 season of Surya Nepal Golf Tour — will not be there to defend the title as he undergoing training in the United States of America.
The ninth and final tournament of the season carries a cash purse of Rs 1.26 million and the winner will receive Rs 230,000. The second-placed pro will get Rs 140,000 and second runner-up will bag Rs 95,000.
Top pro Shrestha leads the table with Rs 460,500, while Nagarkoti is second with Rs 433,000 and Lama third at Rs 343,750. In the absence of Shrestha, the Surya Nepal Premier will be winner-takes-all for both Nagarkoti and Lama.
Another pro, Dhana Bahadur Thapa — who is Rs 148,500 behind Nagarkoti — also has a chance to move atop.
Shrestha, who won three titles and finished behind amateur Sukra Bahadur Rai in one tournament, has not played in the last three events, while Lama and Thapa bagged one each title and amateurs Tanka Bahadur Karki and Subash Tamang in the current season.
Nagarkoti, who had won three tournaments in the previous season, has been empty handed so far although he finished first among pros in the Surya Nepal Challenge won by amateur Subash Tamang.
Nagarkoti was joint second in the Surya Nepal NPGA Tour Championship and lost to Shrestha in the Surya Nepal NPGA Match Play.
Nagarkoti was not satisfied with his performance.
“I have not been able to focus in the game this season as I am struggling with iron shots,” says Nagarkoti, who will be looking to defend the title on his home course. “I am hopeful of winning the title and finish at the top of Order of Merit as I have changed the club. And I will also have home course advantage,” he adds.
Another strong contender Lama is always among the favourites. He won the Surya Nepal Western Open and finished behind amateur Tanka Bahadur Karki in the Surya Nepal NPGA Tour Championship. Like any other golfer, Lama wants to finish the season in style and become the No 1 pro. “I won’t say I have prepared well for the tournament but I will try to put in my best efforts as the Surya Nepal Premier is an opportunity for us to claim the No 1 position in the absence of Shivaram Shrestha,” says Lama.
The season saw three amateur golfers winning one each title and threatening on a couple of other occasions.
Although the wins by amateur golfers do not affect in the Order of Merit as they are not eligible to receive prize money, national team member Sukra Bahadur Rai is a serious contender for the seasonending event.
Rai, who edged past top pro Shrestha in the Surya Nepal Eastern Open, has bagged four titles in three events. Rai also bagged amateur section title in Surya Nepal Western Open and he teamed up with Tanka Bahadur Karki to win the team event title in the Bangladesh Open and led the Province-1 team to gold medal in the eighth National Games. He also represented Nepal in the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final in Vietnam after winning the U-21 section title of the CMS Faldo Series Nepal Championship.
A version of this article appears in print on May 12, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.