Shrestha lifts Central Open crown

Kathmandu, November 9

Nepal No 1 pro Shivaram Sherstha completed the formality to win the Surya Nepal Central Open crown but missed the tournament record by one stroke here at the par-72 Gokarna Golf Club today.

The Royal Nepal Golf Club pro Shrestha carded one-under 71 to post the 72-hole total of 22-under 266 and registered a 20-shot victory over Surya Prasad Sharma and Sanjay Lama in the second event under the Surya Nepal Golf Tour 2017-18.  Although Shrestha missed a couple of records, the total is best of his career as he had the previous highest winning total of 17-under in the Surya Nepal Masters at the same course in 2012.

He also came close to equal the record of 23-under set by Indian pro Shamim Khan on his way to winning the Masters in 2008. Shrestha also missed the Gokarna course record by one stroke in the second round after he fired the personal best of nine-under 63. He also fell one stroke short of the biggest winning margin. Shrestha had registered a 21-shot victory over Rabi Khadka and Ramesh Nagarkoti in the CMS Open Golf Championship at the Royal Nepal Golf Course in 2009.

Shrestha said he was not satisfied with his final round performance although he won the title with ease. “I did not have pressure on winning the title as I had a comfortable lead of 15 strokes going into the final round. I had planned to break the tournament record of 23-under and that put me under tremendous pressure,” said Shrestha, who claimed the 38th title of his career. “I felt like I lost the trophy as I have not been able to believe that I could not break the record despite playing so well over the last three days.”

Shrestha, who began the day at 21-under, fared well on the front nine carding two-under 34 with the help of birdies on the fourth and sixth holes. Shrestha then reached 24-under with a birdie on the 11th hole but then failed to maintain the score and ended up with one-over 37 on the back nine. “The approach shot on the 12th hole made all the difference. And again the chip shot fell too short,” said Shrestha, who took four strokes from the green-side fairway on his way to facing a bogey.

He also dropped a shot on another par-5 hole. On the 15th, the tee shot fell short and the approach shot saw the ball into the jungle. He did manage to recover the ball out but only to see it roll down to the bunker. Shrestha then two-putted for the bogey. Luck was not on his part on the 16th and final hole as he missed birdie putts by few inches. “I missed too many chances on the final day. Anyways I am happy that I could better my own record of total score,” said Shrestha,who received the cheque of Rs 115,000.

Shrestha reduced the event to a no-contest for the top spot while Sharma and Lama fought for second place. They ended up sharing the second place at two-under 286 after Sharma faltered to four-over 76 and Lama carded even-par 72. They earned Rs 63,500 each.

Rame Magar (71) finished fourth at two-over 290, while Deepak Magar faltered to three-over 75 to drop down to fifth at 294. Home club pro Bhuwan Nagarkoti (80) and Jayaram Shrestha (78) shared the sixth position at 296. Dhana Bahadur Thapa (77) was eighth at 297, while Bhu Bahadur Gurung (77) was ninth at 299 and Pashupati Sharma (78) was 10th at 300.

In amateur section, Phuntshok Norbu Lama registered a four-stroke victory. Lama, who shared the lead with Sunil KC going into the final round, shot 11-over 83 but that was more than enough to win the trophy. KC faltered to 87 and lost the second place to Subash Ghising (78) on count back after they were tied at 317.

A total of 42 players, 32 pros and 10 amateur golfers, took part in the event that carried a purse of Rs 630,000. Marketing Manager of Surya Nepal Pvt Ltd Bal Kishan Gurung and Nepal PGA Advisor Ghana Shyam Thapa gave away prizes to the winner.