KATHMANDU, Nov 9: Royal Nepal Golf Club (RNGC) pro Ram Thapa registered a two-stroke victory over fellow golfer Umesh Nagarkoti to win the Surya Nepal Challenge at the home course on Friday.
Overnight leader Thapa carded even-par 67 for a total of six-over 274, while Nagarkti submitted a card of one-over 68 on the final day to finish as runner-up.
Mani Rai of Dharan came third at 277 as he carded two-over 69 on the final day of the tournament, the fourth under the Surya Nepal Golf Tour 2012-13.
Thapa, who was a stroke ahead of Nagarkoti at the start of the day, opened with a six-shot lead with a front nine score of three-under 33. However, he saw his lead cut down to one stroke with two holes remaining as he faltered and Rai pushed hard on the back nine.
Thapa held on the last two holes and finished back nine with three-over 37 to capture his second career victory. Thapa, who has been playing professional golf since 1999, had won Surya Nepal Match Play tournament in 2011.
"Despite having a good performance on front nine, I could not continue it on the back nine. However, I was lucky on the 10th hole not to shoot out of boundary," said Thapa after lifting the trophy. "It was a competitive match as Umesh and Mani were pushing hard from behind and I felt little relaxed after having a good score on front nine," he added.
Winner Thapa began the day with a par putt and hit three consecutive birdies from the second hole before adding another on the eighth hole. He dropped a shot on the ninth hole to take the turn at three-under 30.
On the back nine, he made a disastrous start with bogeys on the 10th and 11th holes before carding a birdie on the 13th hole. He went wayward and hit three straight bogeys on the 15th, 16th and 17th holes. However, the veteran pro finished the tournament in style with a birdie on the par-4 final hole. He received Rs 60,000 for his victory.
Despite the title victory, Thapa was not satisfied with his overall score. "Being a professional, we should have scored either on par or under. As the greens were speedy and pin positions are difficult here, expecting under-par scores would be asking a bit more with us," said Thapa.
Nagarkoti, who played three-over 36 on the front nine, bounced back on the back nine, hitting two-under to claim the second spot and Rs 40,000. Rai, who had brought himself within one stroke off the pace, but had to remain content in third position with a cash prize of Rs 29,000.
In amateur section, Dinesh Prajapati registered a huge 12-stroke victory over Bikash Bogati. The leader on the first two days, Prajapati carded one-over 68 for a total of nine-over 277. Overall, he finished joint third along with Mani Rai. Bikash Bogati (69) was a distant second at 289.
Nepal Professional Golfers Association President Rabindra Man Shrestha, Nepal Golfers Association President Madhukar Yakthumba, Brand Manager of Surya Nepal Pvt Ltd Keshav Pradhan, RNGC Captain Tashi Ghale and Nepal PGA Advisor Ghana Shyam Thapa gave away the prizes and trophies to the winners.