Local favourite Shivaram Shrestha with some brilliant display of golf on Friday inched towards staking a claim to the honours in the 20th edition of the Surya Nepal Pvt Ltd Masters 2013 at the Gokara Forest Golf Resort.
Shiva shot a 4-under par in the third round to be just three strokes behind the leader Abhijit Chadha, who made a bogey each on the last two holes and yet led a crowded field of contenders to inch towards successfully defending the title.
The overnight leader Abhijit was 16-under par 200 for three rounds while Shivaram was tied for the second place with Ajeetesh Sandhu and S Chikkarangappa at 203.
Chikka on his part double-bogeyed the finishing hole to widen the gap between him and the leader. Shamim Khan shot the best round of the day with a 7-under par 65 to climb to the tied-fifth position along with Anirban Lahiri who brought in the second-best card of 66 and Om Prakash Chouhan.
The trio was six shots off the leader at 204. Gaurav Ghei and Mohammad Sanju shared the eighth position at 205.
Amongst the other Nepali pros, Umesh Nagarkoti shot a third round 71 to be 4-under for the tournament and was tied for the 37th place while Toran Bikram Shahi was sharing the 40th position at 213.
The only other pro from Nepal to make the cut Yelamber Singh Adhikari was level par 216 for three days to be the tied-47th position.
The Rs 4.8 Million Surya Nepal Masters 2013, co-sanctioned by the PGTI is the flagship event of the Surya Nepal Golf Tour and is a part of the Surya Nepal Khel Paryatan programme which aims at promoting sports and tourism. Surya Nepal Pvt. Ltd., have taken the mantle of the title sponsorship of the domestic Tour and have done a yeomen service in the growth and development of the sport from the grass root level with their Surya Nepal NGA Youth Development Programme.
Abhijit who looks like meditating before teeing off seems to carry the calmness on the course. Known for his long driving prowess, the young lad from Chandigarh was soon in the thick of action making two birdies on his first three holes.
After making a hattrick of pars on the next three holes, the tall golfer made two more birdies on his last three holes of his front nine to be 19-under for the tournament.
However, he seemed to lose a bit of concentration as he bogeyed the easy par-3 10th while also losing a shot each on the last two holes.
"I was not bothered about the lead as I played my own game," said the leader.
"I would like to win the title and shall endeavour to keep the ball in play," said the 21-year-old.
Shivaram who is looking to emulate his compatriot Deepak Thapa Magar's 2007 act, made a good start while making consecutive birdies on the third and fourth holes and also saved a stroke on the par-5 seventh without finished his front nine without any mistakes.
With Successive birdies on the 11th and 12th, Shivaram was closing in on the leader but two bogeys in a space of the holes (15th and 17th) with a birdie sandwiched in between saw him turn in a card of 68.
"I know I am in chance for a title. I have come pretty close in the last few editions but this time I shall give my best to win," said the Nepali No.1.
With the players breathing down each other's neck, the golfer to keep his veins in check would be the one to walk away with the winner's cheque of NRS 775,920.
Top scores after 54 holes:
200 Abhijit Singh Chadha (67, 62, 71); 203 Shivaram Shrestha (66, 69, 68), Ajeetesh Sandhu (65, 68, 70), Chikkarangappa S (62, 69, 72); 204 Shamim Khan (71, 68, 65), Anirban Lahiri (68, 70, 66), Om Prakash Chouhan (70, 64, 70); 205 Gaurav Ghei (68, 67, 70), Mohammad Sanju (66, 67, 72); 206 Honey Baisoya (72, 66, 68), 206 Rashid Khan (65, 71, 70), Chiragh Kumar (69, 67, 70), Manav Jaini (68, 66, 72); 207 R Srinivas (70, 69, 68), Vikrant Chopra (71, 66, 70), Mukesh Kumar (69, 68, 70), Md. Dulal Hossain (68, 65, 74)
Other Nepali pros
212 Umesh Nagarkoti (71, 70, 71) (T-37th)
213 Toran Bikram Shahi (68, 73, 72) (T-40th)
216 Yelamber Singh Adhikari (72, 69, 75) (T-47th)