Pro golfers busy in preparation for final event

Kathmandu, June 3

The ninth edition of the Surya Nepal Golf Tour is coming to its end and the professional golfers of the country are busy in preparation for the season-ending Surya Nepal Premier Golf Championship beginning here at the Gokarna Golf Club on Monday.

The flagship event of the Surya Nepal Golf Tour 2017-18 carries the highest cash purse of Rs 1.2 million with the winner receiving Rs 230,000. The tournament and the season will come to its end on June 9 with the Pro-Am event.

While Shivaram Shrestha will be eyeing for the sixth title of the season, others in contention are home club pro Bhuwan Nagarkoti, Army Club’s Sanjay Lama and RNGC pro Rabi Khadka.

Unlucky Nagarkoti

Nepal No 2 pro Nagarkoti has not won a single event this season, yet he is a strong contender for the Surya Nepal Premier Golf Challenge. Compared to other contemporary golfers, Nagarkoti has less experience in domestic circuit but that does not mean he is a weak player.

He is unfortunate not to win titles this season despite being a regular member in the leader’s group. Nagarkoti starts well and puts himself in contention in almost every event. But his form deteriorates as the match progresses and he misses the glory. He has finished at second to fifth positions in the last seven events of the season. And it’s all happening because of fatigue and nervousness towards the final stages of the match.

Nagarkoti returned to the course after the absence of almost eight years in 2010 and stole the limelight in his first event when he finished second in the NPGA President’s Cup.

Nagarkoti captured the first major trophy in 2014 when he won the Surya Nepal Western Open and bagged the Surya Nepal Eastern Open in the next season.

He is in search for his third career trophy and he is looking at the Surya Nepal Premier Golf Championship to end the draught. “I get nervous in the latter stages of the match which is stopping me from winning the title. I am trying my best to overcome the problem as winning the trophy is my sole target,” says the Golf Instructor at the Gokarna Golf Club.

Consistent Lama

Sanjay Lama is one of the most consistent golfers in the country and he is clear about his target — to climb one step up to No 2 in Order of Merit by winning the season-ending Surya Nepal Premier Golf Championship. He has spent almost two decades in the course, as caddy, amateur golfer and pro.

Lama began his amateur career from the Carlsberg Open in 2000 and participated in the South Asian level tournament in Pakistan the following year. He tried his hands in the Professional Golf Tour of India but failed to earn pro card from the Q-School. He then turned pro in 2007 and won his first title of the Surya Nepal Golf Tour in the Surya Nepal Eastern Open in 2010.

He has three titles under his belt but that does not tell the full story. He rarely misses the leader’s group but fails to land the trophy. He blames his fate for not being a champion golfer despite playing good rounds of golf. In his season also, Lama began the campaign with a sixth place finish in Dharan and was second and third in the next two events. “It’s really amazing that luck favours Shivaram Shrestha in the final stages of the tournaments,” says Lama.

Hard-working Khadka

Rabi Khadka is one of the most hard-working professional golfers in Nepal. He loves to spend time at the course and the ratio has doubled these days for the season-ending Surya Nepal Premier Golf Championship. As usual, the fourth-ranked Khadka is one of the prime contenders for the event.

The 40-year-old Rabi has spent more than two decades in the sport. He entered the course as a caddy and won the three straight caddies tournament from 2004 to 2006 that made him popular among the amateur golfers. In between he also won the Himalayan Bank Golf Championship in 2005 and also bagged the amateur section titles in the Surya Nepal Masters in 2005 and 2007.

Those titles not only established him as a strong amateur golfer but his career took a new turn. He turned pro in 2007 and has bagged 12 major titles under the Surya Nepal Golf Tour till date. Rabi believes that all the players will be under pressure to perform better as the Surya Nepal premier Golf Championship carries the highest cash purse. And he is determined to add another trophy in his cabinet.