Sports

BHULLAR BAGS 10TH ASIAN TOUR TITLE AND THIRD WIN AT INDONESIA OPEN

August 08, 2022 09:18 AM

Gaganjeet Bhullar
JAKARTA (INDONESIA): Gaganjeet Bhullar ended India’s four-year long wait for an international title with his two-shot victory at the US$500,000 Bank Mandiri Indonesia Open at the Pondok Indah Golf Course on Sunday.

Bhullar (68-67-68-65) saw it home with a sublime and error-free final round effort of seven-under 65 that took his tournament total to 20-under 268. The 34-year-old Gaganjeet thus sealed his 11th international win and 10th title on the Asian Tour. The Indian also became the first player to register three wins at the Indonesia Open following his previous successes at the event in 2013 and 2016.

India’s Rashid Khan (68-70-64-68), a two-time winner on the Asian Tour, shot a last round of 68 to enjoy a tied second finish at 18-under 270 along with Englishman Steve Lewton who carded a 64 on Sunday.

Khan had started the day in front with Thailand’s Atiruj Winaicharoenchai but the strapping Bhullar was unstoppable and a man on a mission, making three birdies on the front, and four on the back – which included three on the trot from the 13th.

Bhullar showed no sign of Sunday nerves and put on a putting masterclass, holing brilliant birdie putts and crucial par saves, to record his first international victory since 2018. He has won more titles on the Asian Tour than any other player from his country.

The six-foot tall Bhullar, who originally hails from Kapurthala in Punjab, said, “I played like a champion tee to green and gave myself so many birdie opportunities. I was riding high on confidence and hit the ball really well. It was a great week, I had a lot of positive memories having won this tournament two times previous, that was definitely on my subconscious mind. The goal was just to go out there and give my 100 percent.”

Indonesia has been a happy hunting ground for Gaganjeet as he has secured four titles in the country including his first win on the Asian Tour back in 2009. Pondok Indah Golf Course too has been a favourable venue for Bhullar since he won his last Indonesia Open title in 2016 at the same course.

Gaganjeet now joins an elite group of players who have won a National Open in Asia at least three times. The list includes Peter Thomson, Hong Kong Open and Indian Open; Jyoti Randhawa, Indian Open; Adam Scott, Singapore Open; Jumbo Ozaki and Tommy Nakajima, Japan Open; Lu Liang-Huan, aka ‘Mr Lu’, Philippine Open and Taiwan Open; and Miguel Angel Jimenez, Hong Kong Open.

“This is my first win after becoming a father and I would like to dedicate this win to my 11- month-old daughter. Also, after over two difficult years because of COVID it’s just amazing the Asian Tour is back in this wonderful country. The support for me here has been incredible,” added Bhullar, who has now climbed from 24th to 10th position in the Asian Tour Order of Merit after pocketing US$90,000 for his victory.

Rashid Khan made up ground over the closing holes with four birdies on the homeward stretch having started with nine straight pars.

Rashid said, “I couldn't make any birdies on the first nine holes, so it was a little difficult for me to come back after that. I had my first birdie on the 10th so I got thinking that I can make a few more.”

Khan’s joint runner-up finish moved him up from 50th to 27th place in the Asian Tour Order of Merit.

Ajeetesh Sandhu finished as the third Indian in the top-20 as he tied 19th place at 11-under 277.

 
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