Kathmandu, May 9
The Surya Nepal Golf Tour 2018-19 is coming to its end next week with the ninth and final event of the season — Surya Nepal Premier Golf Championship — here at the Gokarna Golf Club.
The biggest tournament of the season, slated for May 13-17, carries a cash purse of Rs 1.26 million and top three pros will receive Rs 230,000, Rs 140,000 and Rs 95,000 respectively.
The tournament is important for pros as the prize money won in the event will affect the ranking in Order of Merit. The season has seen a couple of ups and downs for pros as amateur golfers have given them hard times. After No 1 pro Shiva Ram Shrestha won the first four events, three titles went into the hands of amateur golfers and in between Army Club pro Dhana Bahadur Thapa was able to land his fourth career title.
Amateur golfers Sukra Bahadur Rai, Subash Tamang and Tanka Bahadur Karki have been consistently posing threat for pros and they bagged one each title in the season. In the absence of top pro Shrestha, who is in the United States of America for training, the Surya Nepal Premier is widely open for all golfers.
Tribhuvan Army Officers Golf Club pro Thapa and amateurs Tamang and Karki are among the strong contenders for the title.
For the third ranked Thapa, Surya Nepal Premier is an opportunity to move a step ahead in Order of Merit. Thapa, who won the Surya Nepal Pilot Golfers NPGA Classic, is already eyeing the second position in Order of Merit. “I did not fare well in the previous events as I had changed my clubs. But now I am ready to fight for the crown to finish second in Order of Merit,” he said.
Amateur Tamang, who has been training under Thapa ever since joining the Army Club after his impressive runs off late, is the youngest winner in the Tour. Tamang is regarded as a strong contender after he won the Surya Nepal Challenge at the age of 17 following a week-long training in Singapore.
“I have been able to focus on my game after joining the Army Club and I am looking forward to the Surya Nepal Premier,” said Tamang.
National champion Karki is another serious contender for the Surya Nepal Premier. Karki claimed the Surya Nepal NPGA Tour Championship before winning individual section gold medal in the eighth National Games. Karki, who also won the amateur title of Surya Nepal NPGA Pilot Golfers, combined with fellow national team member Sukra Bahadur Rai to finish first in team event of the Bangladesh Amateur Open last year.
Karki, who is enjoying the great form, sees course as the main competitor.
“Golf course and the holes are the main challenges rather than specific players.
You have to overcome the course first and I am looking forward to challenge every hole to win the Surya Nepal Premier,” he says.
A version of this article appears in print on May 10, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.