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Monday, July 16, 2018

Bhullar eyes European circuit after third title

Asian tour: 23-year old says he isn’t far from the elite after Monday’s win in Taipei

Written by Nitin Sharma | Chandigarh | Published: September 18, 2012 3:29:35 am

Last week,when 23-year-old Gaganjeet Bhullar finished second in the Selangor Masters in Malaysia,the Kapurthala lad had spent an hour after the finish at the course. The golfer wanted to spend time on his putting skills and had stayed on at the course. Clearly,second place was not good enough for the youngster.

This time,at the weather-affected Yeangder Tournament Players Championship in Taipei,Bhullar spent a lot more time in the hotel than at the course,but while walking the freeway and the greens,he had done enough to win the tournament,curtailed to 54 rounds and extended till Monday. All the practice,and the patience,paid off as the lad won his third Asian Tour title at a canter.

“Even last week I realised I was playing well and it was matter of time and little more fine tuning before I won the title. The conditions here were tough and what made matters worse was that greens had become hard due to the bad weather. We had to start afresh after staying in the hotel for close to two days. I had to rely on my short game to tackle the greens which helped me. The crucial thing was to play well and the putt at the 14th hole took off the pressure. Wiratchant and Knutzon were close but playing flat on the greens helped my cause,” said Bhullar,who sank six birdies during his day’s score of 69 to win the title and move to fifth spot in the Asian Order of Merit.

Close finishes

Both of Bhullar’s previous Tour wins came in close finishes — the first with a two-stroke win over Adam Byth of Australia in Indonesia Invitational in 2009 and a one-stroke win over Hwang Choon of South Korea in 2010. And Monday was no different. Heading into the final day with a three-shot lead,Bhullar saw the competition bring it down to one shot with seven holes remaining.

Bhullar won the British Open qualifying tournament in 2009,going on to made the cut in the British Open that year. And the golfer now wants to focus more on the European Tour,but not before adding more silverware in the Asian circuit.

“I love playing at the Asian Tour. This year I have four top-3 finishes and the results would help me to improve my rankings. The courses in Asia have small greens and they are ideal to prepare me for European Tour challenges. That’s where I dream of winning titles and making my pace through Asian Tour will be my plan. I want at least couple of more wins this season to further improve my world rankings. I played in the British Open in 2009 and that was something I cherish. Competing against golfers like Ernie Els,Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods gives one an emotional high,” shared Bhullar.

Bhullar will now head to Japan where he will take part in the Panasonic Open starting Thursday,and will be competing against the likes of compatriot Jeev Milkha Singh,a golfer who has won six times on the Asian Tour and won the Scotish Open in July early this year.

And Bhullar believes that playing along side Singh brings out the best in him.”Jeev is the one who started it all for Indian golfers. And I am looking forward to playing along with him. He cheers young players like me and spends time with us. He has won four times at the Japanese circuit and knows a lot about golf courses in Japan. It will be a great learning experience,” shared Bhullar.

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