Neupane takes one-stroke lead over five players

Kathmandu, March 30:

Deepak Neupane carded even-par 72 to take lead after the first round of the Surya Nepal NPGA Tour Championship here at the Gokarna Golf Club today.

Pros Deepak Acharya, Sachin Bhattarai and Krishna Hari Mizar along with amateurs Rupak Acharya and Prasanna Upreti shared the second position with one-over 73. Amateur Dhana Thapa was seventh at two-over 74. CB Bhandari, Sabin Sapkota and Mani Rai were tied for eighth at 75. Jaya Ram Shrestha was 11th at 76 while Ram Thapa 12th with the score of 77. Top pro Shiva Ram Shrestha was tied 13th with Ramesh Nagarkoti and Pashupati Sharma at six-over 78.

On the day when none of the golfers could produce the under-par performance, Neupane was the best with even-par 36 on each half. On the front nine, he sank birdies on the third and sixth holes against bogeys on the fourth and eighth. On the turn, he dropped a shot on the 11th before saving a shot on the 14th hole.

Neupane was satisfied with performance but rued the regulation green misses. “I missed green on so many holes today and the putting also let me down,” said Neupane, who last won the Surya Nepal Western open in 2007. “I missed a three-foot putt on Hole No 4,” said the pro who finished seventh in the Surya Nepal Masters in 2007. He also said he was confident of overcoming the first-round mistakes to hang on the lead and win the event.

Deepak Acharya, who was tied at two-under 34 with Sachin Bhattarai after the first nine holes, maintained the score until the 14th hole. He dropped three shots in two holes — a double bogey on the 15th and a bogey on the 17th. He started with a birdie and sank two more on the seventh and ninth against a single bogey on the second hole.

Like Acharya, Sachin Bhattarai also had three birdies and a bogey on the front nine. He sank birdies on the third, seventh and eight holes against a bogey on the fourth hole. On the back nine, Bhattarai had three bogeys that let him down. Top pro Shiva Ram — the prize money leader with five wins in the Tour this season — had a disastrous round of five-over 41 on the front nine that included four bogeys and a double bogey against a lone birdie. On the back nine, he had eight-par putts and a bogey on Hole No 14.

A total 22 pros and four amateurs took part on the first day of the 72-hole tournament. RNGC pro Deepak Thapa Magar pulled out citing personal reasons. “I could not perform well and I also did not feel like playing,” said Thapa Magar, who carded nine-over 81. Out of the total prize of Rs 300,000, the top three winners of the last event under the Surya Nepal Golf Tour 2008-09 will get Rs 65,000, Rs 41,000 and Rs 32,000 respectively.