Top golfer Shrestha opens up two-stroke lead

Kathmandu, January 12

Shivaram Shrestha took a stride towards second straight title of the season after the Nepal No 1 pro opened up two-stroke lead in the third round of the Surya Nepal Challenge here at the Royal Nepal Golf Cub today.

On a day when only two golfers broke the par, Shrestha posted a second straight two-under 68 for the 36-hole total of four-under 200. His elder brother and overnight leader Jayaram Shrestha faltered to five-over 63 to slip down to second at 202. Bhuwan Nagarkoti of Gokarna Golf Club was further two strokes adrift at third after he played a two-over 70.

Winner of the season-opening Surya Nepal Eastern Open in Dharan last month, Shivaram shot one-over 35 on the front nine before bouncing back strongly on the bogey-free back nine with a three-under 31. Shivaram made a bright start with a birdie on the second hole but he went on to drop shots on the third and ninth holes. Knowing he was only two strokes behind leader after the front nine, Shivaram pushed hard on the latter half and carded birdies on the 11th, 13th and 14th holes saving pars on six others to surge atop the leaderboard.

His elder brother, Jayaram, who is yet to win a trophy in the Tour, played a forgettable four-over 38 on the front nine that included a double bogey on the third and bogeys on the sixth, seventh and ninth against a lone birdie on the second hole. On the back nine, Jayaram carded three birdies on the 10th, 13th and 17th holes but he was undone by double bogeys on the 11th and 15th holes and a bogey on the 16th hole.

Rame Magar was fourth at two-over 206 after he carded even-par 68, while Sanjay Lama lost his grounds with a nine-over 77 to go down to fifth at 207. Chuda Bahadur Bhandari moved four places up to sixth after he carded one-under 67 to post a total of five-over 209, while Rabi Khadka (70) is seventh at 210. Dhana Bahadur Thapa (75) and Deepak Magar (71), Ram Krishna Shrestha (75), Bikash Adhikari (75) and Surya Prasad Sharma (71) are in top 10.

In amateur section, Mithun Rai maintained his lead despite playing six-over 74 for a total score of 11-over 215, while Santosh Rokka (72) was one shot behind. Shiva Kumar Majhi (76) was third at 218. The final round will be held on Friday. The second event under the Surya Nepal Golf Tour 2016-17 carries a cash purse of Rs 400,000. Top three pros will receive Rs 75,000, Rs 46,000 and Rs 31,500 respectively.