Sukra Bahadur Rai began the Surya Nepal Central Open campaign with a twostroke lead here at the Gokarna Golf Club today.

Rai carded five-under 67 in the first round of the third event under the Surya Nepal Golf Tour 2021-22. The winner of the previous event, Surya Nepal Eastern Open at his home club in Dharan last month, Rai was two shots ahead of Rame Magar, who carded three-under 69.

Rai made a promising start with an eagle on the third hole and carded birdies on the fourth, sixth and seventh to take the turn at an impressive five-under 31. He then carded a birdie on the 10th and faced the lone bogey of the round on the 15th to finish the back nine at even-par 36.

Magar took the turn at one-under 35 before carding two-under 34 on the back nine. He dropped a shot on the fourth against birdies on the third and sixth holes. On the back nine, Magar carded birdies on the 10th and 15th holes.

On a day when five golfers broke the par, Nepal No 1 pro Bhuwan Nagarkoti and top amateur Subash Tamang shared the third position at two-under 70. Nagarkoti carded one-under 35 on both halves and his round included a total of six birdies and four bogeys. He faced bogeys on the fourth, eighth, 14th and 16th against birdies on the third, sixth, seventh, 12th, 15th and 17th holes.

The 13th South Asian Games double gold medallist, Tamang carded two-under 34 before taking the turn and played even-par 36 on the latter half despite having an ace on the par-3 16th. He made a bright start with birdies on the second, third and seventh holes before dropping a shot on the next.

He dropped a shot on the 11th and carded a birdie on the next before facing a triple bogey on the 14th hole.

The hole-in-one on the 16th saved his day as Tamang was able to finish the round with under-par score.

Former No 1 pro Rabi Khadka was fifth at one-under 71, while Niraj Tamang was further one stroke behind at sixth. Rajendra Shrestha Pradhan was seventh at two-over 74, while Surya Prasad Sharma and Ram Krishna Shrestha shared the eighth position at 75. Amateur Sadbhav Acharya and Dinesh Prajapati were tied for 10th at fourover 76. Dhana Bahadur Thapa and Bhuwan Kumar Rokka shared the 12th position with amateurs Shaswat Pradhan and Mithun Rai 77.

In all, 58 golfers – 39 pros and 19 amateurs – are taking part in the tournament that carries a cash purse of Rs 775,000.

Top three pros will receive Rs 135,000, Rs 88,000 and Rs 65,000 respectively. Top 21 pros and at least six amateurs will make the cut after the second round.

A version of this article appears in the print on January 12, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.