Kathmandu: Local challenger Shiva Ram Shreshta kept the Nepali dreams alive of grabbing the coveted Rs 4 Million Surya Nepal Masters 2012 title after he grabbed a share of lead with a brilliant round of 5-under 67.
In an interesting turn of events, three players – Shiva, Vijay Kumar and Abhijit Chadha were in a three-way tie for lead at 8-under 208 at the end of the penultimate round at the Gokarna Forest Golf Resort here on Friday. The Surya Nepal Masters 2012 is a jointly sanctioned event by the Professional Golf Tour of India and the Nepal Professional Golfers Association.
Former Indian Open winner Vijay Kumar, went ahead by four shots against the rest of the field at the end of the 12th hole, courtesy three birdies and an eagle but dramatically dropped four shots in the next five holes and missed a six-footer birdie putt on the 18thto submit a card of 2-under 70. Similarly young Abhijit after having played some good golf was sitting for a three-feet birdie putt on the on the finishing hole. Reading the line wrong, the 20-year-old lanky professional who is playing in only his second professional event on the PGTI Tour, lost an opportunity to grab the sole lead, missing the putt narrowly to submit a card of 3-under 69.
Clearly, the best performer of the day Shiva fired seven birdies for a 67. But for the bogey on the 14th where he three-putted from 12 feet, the burly professional would have been the sole leader.
Mukesh Kumar was in the sole fourth position, two shots behind the leader at 6-under 210. A shot further were the duo of Gaurav Pratap Singh and Sanjay Kumar who were tied for the fifth spot. Tashi Tsering the lone amateur was tied for the 25th place at 220 after shooting a 74 in the third round. Toran Bikram Shahi was the next best Nepali professional who was in the 20th position at 219 after a third round 74.
However, the day belonged to Shiva Ram who overcame a disastrous second round where he not only went four-over but also lost the opening day’s lead. After a string of steady pars, the 27-year-old fired a hat-trick of birdies from the fourth. A lapse of concentration earned him a bogey on the seventh. But that was only for a while as he posted a second hat-trick of birdies on the 10th, 11th and 12th and then came the disastrous bogey on the 14th which was nullified with a birdie on the very next hole.
“My putting is still a worry for me. I should have ended the day on a better note than the 67 but for some small putts I missed my way,” said Shiva after the round. I will try and play the way I did today in the final round. I know it is very important for me and for my country and I shall try my best to win tomorrow,” said a beaming Shiva Ram who had finished as the No.1 on the Surya Nepal NPGA Tour Order of Merit.
The final 18 holes will decide the new champion of the Surya Nepal Masters 2012 on Saturday.
The top scores after 54 holes
T-1 SHIVA RAM SHRESTHA (65, 76, 67) 208
T-1 VIJAY KUMAR (69, 69, 70) 208
T-1 ABHIJIT SINGH CHADHA (68, 71, 69) 208
4 MUKESH KUMAR (71, 70, 69) 210
T-5 GAURAV PRATAP SINGH (76, 68, 67) 211
T-5 SANJAY KUMAR (67, 73, 71) 211
T-7 RANDHIR SINGH GHOTRA (71, 71, 70) 212
T-7 VIKRANT CHOPRA (68, 72, 72) 212
9 R MURTHY (69, 74, 70) 213
10 M DHARMA (72, 73, 69) 214
T-11 RAJU ALI MOLLAH (75, 70, 71) 216
T-11 VINOD KUMAR (71, 72, 73) 216
T-11 SHANKAR DAS (66, 74, 76) 216
Other Nepali players
20 TORAN BIKRAM SHAHI (72, 73, 74) 219
T-25 TASHI TSERING (A) (75, 71, 74) 220
T-32 RAJAN THAPA (76, 72, 75) 223
T-36 RAMESH NAGARKOTI (74, 72, 78) 224
55 SACHIN BHATTARAI (80, 70, 87) 237