Pokhara, February 1
Sanjay Lama won the title of the Surya Nepal Western Open here at the par-69 Himalayan Golf Course today.
Lama registered a two-stroke victory over No 1 pro Shivaram Shrestha and amateur Sukra Bahadur Rai to claim his fourth career title. Lama, who was one shot ahead of Rabi Khadka going into the final round, shot two-over 71 but that was enough for victory with the total score of even-par 207.
With the title of the fifth event under the Surya Nepal Golf Tour 2018-19, Lama earned Rs 120,000. The trophy was first for Lama in four years. He had won the Surya Nepal Central Open in 2015 to add to his previous two titles — Surya Nepal Western Open in 2010 and Surya Nepal Eastern Open in 2014.
Top pro Shrestha shared the second position with Surya Nepal Eastern Open champion amateur golfer Rai at two-over 209. Shrestha carded even-par 69 in the final round, while Rai shot a 68. As Rai is not entitled for cash prize, Shrestha received Rs 77,000.
Khadka, who was one shot behind leader Lama after the second round, faltered to four-over 73 and slipped to fourth overall and third among pros with the score of three-over 210. He earned Rs 55,000. Likewise, Surya Prasad Sharma moved to fourth at four-over 211 after he carded even-par 69 and he got Rs 43,000. Krishna Man Rajbahak finished fifth at 212 and he got Rs 35,000.
Lama played two-over 37 on the front nine before carding even-par 34 on the latter half. Shrestha, who also shot 37 on the front nine, went within one shot of the lead with four holes remaining. But he missed a birdie putt on the 15th and Lama hung on to complete the victory. “I could not perform well today compared to the last two rounds but I am happy to win the title after a long time,” said Lama.
“Shivaram put me under pressure with back-to-back birdies on the back nine before I made one on the 15th and I think that was the turning point as I went two strokes ahead after he could not make it,” said Lama, who remained out of the course for almost one year. “I did not play for one year and this title has given the feeling that I am back,” he added.
Top pro Shrestha rued the missed birdie on the 15th hole. “I did not have choice of playing attacking golf and I was on the course as per the plan,” said Shrestha. “I had already cut the deficit to one stroke and was close to levelling the scores. But I missed a birdie putt on the 15th and Sanjay made it to extend the lead to two shots. I think that hole made all the difference,” said Shrestha, who won the first three events of the season.
Defending champion Dhana Bahadur Thapa, who had won the title last year beating Shrestha in playoff, finished sixth at six-over 213 and bagged Rs 33,000, while No 2 pro Bhuwan Nagarkoti was further one shot behind despite carding one-under 68 to earn Rs 30,000. Local pro Bhu Bahadur Gurung, Bhuwan Kumar Rokka and Bikash Adhikari finished in top 10.
In amateur section, national team member Sukra Bahadur Rai won the title with the score of two-over 209, while local amateur Ajit BK (73) was a distant second at 215. Tanka Bahadur Karki shot four-over 73 to finish third at 216.
A total of 57 golfers — 33 pros and 24 amateurs — took part in the tournament which carried a cash purse of Rs 661,500. Brand Manager of Surya Nepal Pvt Ltd Keshav Pradhan, President of Nepal PGA Rabindra Man Shrestha, President of Nepal Golf Association Tashi Ghale and Director of Himalayan Golf Course Kiran KC handed over the prizes to the winners. The tournament will end on Saturday with the Pro-Am event.