Kathmandu: Former Indian Open winner Vijay Kumar played some consistent golf and added a successive 69 to emerge as the leader at the end of the second round of the Surya Nepal Masters 2012 at the Gokarna Forest Golf Resort here on Thursday. Overnight leader Shiva Ram Shreshta shot a disastrous 76, and moved down five places to be in tied sixth position, thanks to his shaky putter which helped Vijay’s cause.
Young Abhijit Singh Chadha occupied the lone second spot at 5-under 139 after a second round 71. Shankar Das, Vikrant Chopra and Sanjay Kumar were tied for the third place at 4-under 140. Mukesh Kumar and Suleiman Ali were tied for sixth place along with Shiva at 3-under 141. Sharing the limelight was Gaurav Pratap Singh who made a hole-in-one on the par-3 16th.
As many as 54 professionals and one amateur made it to the money making rounds after the cut was applied at 7-over 151. In all six Nepali golfers including Tashi Tsering (amateur) made the cut. Amongst the star players to miss the cut were defending champion Rashid Khan who shot a consecutive 9-over 81, former Surya Nepal Masters champion Deepak Thapa Magar and Rabi Khadka amongst others.
Vijay Kumar who began from the 10th, made a superb eagle on the par-5 12th and played some steady golf before committing a mistake on the 17th dropping a shot. On his back nine, the pro from Lucknow flirted with birdies before converting three in a row beginning from the fifth to be four-under for the day. He could have increased the lead by yet another stroke but for the bogey on the next hole.
“I have always liked the course and have enjoyed my stay in Nepal. I just was trying to play my game and never planned and on the way collected some birdies,” said the burly professional. “It is too early to predict the outcome and I am looking to win as it has been a very long time,” he added.
Shiva Ram, also a 10th tee starter, did make a good start by saving a stroke on the par-5 11th. However disaster struck towards the end of his front nine made three bogeys in the last four holes. Three more bogeys against a lone birdie put the Nepal No.1 player three shots behind the leader. ‘I missed some really short putts and I was unlucky on a few,” said Shiva who made three-putts on five of the holes which made a serious dent on his card. “I am hopeful of making amends on the morrow,” said Shiva who would be looking to grab the title on Saturday.
Gaurav Pratap cards a hole-in-one: Indian Gaurav Pratap Singh meanwhile aced the par-3 16thwhich happens to the Surya signature hole of the Gokarna Forest Golf Resort. The pro from Noida Golf Club used a perfect 6-iron on the 192-yard hole. The ball pitched to the left of the cup and bounced once before settling in the hole. The 27-year old bagged a cash prize of NRS 32,000 for his effort and catapulted to tied-13th spot after shooting a 4-under 68 which incidentally was the best round of the day along with Saurabh Bhaduri who had the esteemed company of Mukesh Kumar and Shiva Ram in his round today.