Nepal No 1 pro Bhuwan Nagarkoti and local pro Niraj Tamang opened the Dharan Open Golf Tournament campaign with identical three-under 67 here at the Dharan Golf Club today.

Nagarkoti, who won the season-opening Surya Nepal Central Open at the Gokarna Golf Club last week, made a brilliant start carding five-under 31 on the front nine that included birdies on the second, fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth holes.

Nagarkoti faltered on the latter half playing two-over 36.

He began the back nine with a birdie but failed to keep the momentum going and faced a bogey on the 14th and a double bogey on the penultimate hole.

Joint leader Tamang, who was the member of the national team that won gold medal in the 13th South Asian Games held on home soil in December 2019, saved pars on the first three holes before carding birdies on the fourth, Sixth, Seventh and ninth to take the turn at bogey-free four under 32. Like Nagarkoti, Tamang also could not follow the front nine performance and shot one-over 35. His back nine included bogeys on the 13th, 17th and 18th against birdies on the 12th and 16th holes.

Two local pros, Bal Bhadra Rai and Sukra Bhadra Rai share the third position on even-par 70 along with Jayaram Shrestha, who carded five birdies and an eagle. The winner of last year's Surya Nepal Eastern Open, Bal Bhadra began the day with a bogey and added another on the fourth but he managed to play even-par 36 on the front nine after carding birdies on the third and fifth holes. He dropped a shot on the 14th and carded a birdie on the next to finish the back nine on even-par 34.

The 13th SA Games gold medallist, Sukra took the turn at one-over 37 before carding one-under 33 on the latter half.

He dropped shots on the first, fourth, ninth and 10th holes against birdies on the fifth, sixth, 11th and 12th holes.

Shrestha made a dream start carding three straight birdies and added another on the ninth but he was forced to take the turn at two-over 38 after he faced bogeys on the fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth holes and a double bogey on the seventh. He dropped a shot on the 11th before sinking an eagle on the 13th hole and added a birdie on the final hole to finish the back nine at two-under 32.

Surya Prasad Sharma was sixth at one-over 71, while three pros - Deepak Acharya, Sanjay Lama and Krishna Man Rajbahak - were tied with amateur Yubraj Bhujel at twoover 72. Rabi Khadka and Dinesh Prajapati shared the 11th position at three-over 73, while Deepak Magar, Rame Magar and Pashupati Sharma were further one stroke behind at 74.

In amateur section, Bhujel was three strokes ahead of Raj Kumar Rai, who played fiveover 75. Jitendra Rai was further one stroke behind at 76.

A total of 43 golfers - 32 pros and 11 amateurs - are taking part in the second event under the Surya Nepal Golf Tour 2021. Cut will be applied after second round with top 21 pros and at least six amateurs making it to the final round.

The tournament, sponsored by Dharan Sub-Metropolitan City, carries a cash purse of Rs 500,000 and top three pros will receive Rs 90,000, Rs 55,000 and Rs 41,000 respectively.

A version of this article appears in the print on March 25, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.