Kathmandu, Nepal: Reaping the benefits of intensive training during a recent eye-opening overseas trip, Sukra Bahadur Rai swept to a runaway victory in the fifth edition of the Faldo Series Nepal Championship.
Visiting Malaysia and Singapore in May, Rai competed in two tournaments and saw the ocean for the first time in his life.
He also spent a week training in Singapore under the watchful guidance of Australian Kim Baldwin, one of the most respected coaches in Asia.
Baldwin has been travelling to Nepal since 2013 under the R&A’s Working for Golf programme to assist with the development of the game in the South Asian sovereign state.
Safely back on home soil at the Gokarana Forest Resort, Rai showed that all the hard work is paying off with a stunning success that has earned him a ticket to the 11th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo at Laguna Lăng Cô in Danang, Central Vietnam, in March, 2017.
Joint first-round leader after a 76, Rai came to life on day two with a five-under-par 67 to sprint into an eight-stroke lead.
It was an advantage he never looked likely to relinquish as he coasted home with a closing even-par 72 to take top honours in the 10th leg of the record-breaking 2016-17 Faldo Series Asia season.
Rai ended the R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking-counting tournament with a 54-hole aggregate of one-under 215. That was no fewer than 15 strokes clear of his closest rival. He received his prize from Daljeet Sripali, Nepal’s Minister for Youth and Sports.
Baldwin said: “Sukra has come from the caddie ranks and has had very little formal education. Golf is providing him with the opportunity to greatly improve his life.”
Six-time Major championship winner Faldo, Britain’s most successful golfer, said: “Congratulations to Sukra on a wonderful performance. It’s uplifting to hear success stories such as this and I look forward to spending time with him at the Grand Final in Vietnam.
“Congratulations also to the Nepal Golf Association and The R&A for the outstanding work they are doing in developing the game. Without their support and dedication, youngsters like Sukra would not be able to enjoy the opportunities that are now being presented to him.”
Accompanying Sukra to Vietnam will be Boys Under-16 champion Tenzing Tsering and Indian Sifat Kaur Alag, winner in the Girls’ Under-21 category.
Seven shots behind Dubai-based Indian Aryaan Kumar after two rounds, Tsering soared to the top of the leaderboard thanks a closing even-par 72 that ensured he would retain the title he won last year.
Supported by The R&A and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the 2016-17 Faldo Series Asia campaign stretches over 11 months.
As well as two events in China, India and Thailand, championships will be staged in Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chinese-Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.