Sorry, but no golfing tips this week. I'm holding them close while I endeavour to become the first Nepali winner of the prestigious Surya Nepal Masters that started with the Pro-Am on Wednesday.
Looking back, I realise I've participated in every single one of these tournaments. The first five as an amateur, the last six as a professional. My successes were in 1995 and 1996 when I won both the individual and team amateur prizes. This is the 12th time I will be playing.
As a professional, the best I have got to is fourth and I'm not satisfied with that. Fellow Nepali professionals and I have been practicing hard in preparation for our bid to come out tops this year.
Before 1998 the tournament was on invitation only, then it became part of the the Professional Golf Association of India's tour event. The competition from the Indian tour is as tough as ever. Now that they have all arrived in Kathmandu, let's look at what we're up against.
The top ranked Amby Valley PGAI Tour star Ashok Kumar has flown in from down under, fresh from a stint at the $1 million Cadbury Schweppes Australian PGA Championship. His sole aim is to take on the field and win at the majestic and challenging Gokarna Forest Golf Course.
"A champion is one who wins in every conceivable condition," says Ashok Kumar. "I have registered five wins this season, all on different courses and weather conditions, but the Gokarna Forest Golf Resort is a different kettle of fish altogether. The undulating nature of the course with tight fairways and lightning fast greens is akin to world class courses we encounter on the Asian circuit. A win here would give me as much pleasure as would one on the Asian PGA Tour," said the 23-year old Delhi pro.
In addition to the challenges posed by the course, Ashok will face some stiff competition from the supremely talented field.
Ashok's arch-rival, Shiv Kapur, is an Asian Games Gold Medalist. He has an extremely impressive record in his Rookie season, including a win at the Amby Valley MGC Open in Chennai and three runner-up finishes in six outings. An Arjuna Awardee, Kapur will definitely look to upstage Ashok, especially after being relegeted to three successive second place finishes by him.
"Ashok is a fabulous player but nothing is going to deter me from my goal of winning the event at the Gokarna Forest Golf Resort," says Kapur. "I have played on some of the best golf courses the world over but the Gokarna facility is special. It is a sheer test of golfing skills and as a professional, I would love nothing more than to have the Surya Nepal Masters title under my belt," said the 22-year old.
Talented defending champion at this event is Digvijay Singh, who stormed to an impessive and impeccable victory last year. Also present are 2002 Indian Open winner and twice Order of Merit winner Vijay Kumar, 1998 Indian Open winner, Feroz Ali, Winner of the Patna Open 2004, Rafiq Ali, and twice Honda-Siel PGA Golf Championship winner Uttam Singh Mundy.
Non-Indian participants include Mohd Jibon Ali, Babu Ahmed and Shahid from Bangladesh, and Anura Rohana and Lalith Kumara from Sri Lanka.
To name a few, the local challenge will come from Deepak Neupane, Ramesh Nagarkoti, Deepak Thapa Magar, Pashupati Sharma, Sabin Sapkota, Sachin Bhattarai, and I.
Well, the Gokarna Golf Course has been tweaked into top shape for the tournament, the big boys from the tour have arrived and Friday we'll be on the second day of this four-day international professional golf tournament.
Golfer or not, come on down any day till 12 December. and get a feel of a large scale international sporting event where you, as a spectator, can enjoy not only the sport but also a walk in the sun and a relaxing time within the beautiful ambience of Gokarna Forest. For more information call the Golf Resort on 4450444 or 4451212. Entrance is free.
What could be more encouraging than having plenty of resident well wishers walking the course, encouraging us to produce that little extra that could carry us into top place finishes!
Deepak Acharya is a golf instructor and Head Golf Professional at Gokarna Forest Golf Resort & Spa, Kathmandu. email@example.com