Jakarta, Nov 19 (PTI) Indian golfer Gaganjeet Bhullar closed an amazing week with a brilliant eagle putt from 20 feet on the 18th hole to clinch his 11th Asian Tour title and an incredible fifth win in Indonesia here on Sunday.
Bhullar dropped two bogeys during the day in his card of 67 at the BNI Indonesia Masters that also had four birdies. The eagle from 20 feet was the icing on the cake.
He finished with 63-67-63-67 for a 24-under 260 total and won USD 270,000 for his efforts.
Bhullar's five-shot win at the BNI Indonesia Masters was also the biggest of his international career and finishing second behind him was fellow countryman Karandeep Kochhar who had a bogey-free 63 on the final day.
It was also the first win in the International Series for any Indian. The last win for any Indian on the Asian Tour was 15 months ago, also in Indonesia, by Bhullar, who revealed that his mother was born in Indonesia.
The win took Bhullar to fourth place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, while Kochhar is the next best Indian at 19th.
“It wasn’t that easy. This is my fourth Asian Tour wire-to-wire. And this was a victory with a seven-shot lead (after three rounds) and I just kept telling myself I have done that in the past and I am ready to do that this week,” said Bhullar who playing steady through the week.
His other wire-to-wire wins came in the Macao Open in 2012 and 2017 and at the 2013 Indonesia Open.
“Today I played pretty well actually. I struggled a bit in the middle of the round, there was a stretch when I was trying my level best but I was not making the birdies but the chip in on number 16 turned around everything. And, of course the eagle on the last was the icing on the cake.” Beginning the final day with a seven-shot lead, Bhullar was never in danger despite a brilliant charge by Kochhar, who was nine behind at the start and finished five back by the end.
Bhullar ensured there were no hiccups early in his round as he birdied the third and the sixth. A dropped shot on the ninth did not mean much as he got it back on 11th. A second dropped shot on 15th was quickly repaired with a birdie on the 16th. He closed with an eagle on the 18th.
“I have been doing meditation since I was 14 years old, and I think this is my 17th year on Tour. I learned over the years how to deal with the pressure and especially the conditions and the situation I was in the last three rounds. So, I think the past experience has really helped me,” said Bhullar.
Making it a great week for India were Veer Ahlawat (69) in tied-seventh at 14-under, while S Chikkarangappa (68) was 12-under. Rashid Khan (68) was T-36 at 8-under, Anirban Lahiri (72) at 5-over was 67th and Honey Baisoya (79) was T-68.
Kochhar had a brilliant front nine with five birdies on the third and fourth, followed by another on sixth and two more on eighth and ninth for a 5-under 30.
On the back nine, he had three more birdies for a superb 63, a card that was twice achieved by Bhullar this week on the first and third days and bettered only once by David Puig on the third day.
“Obviously a very good day from start to finish. I told myself that the way I was hitting the ball the last few days I'm going to have a lot of opportunities, so it was all about being patient,” Kochhar said.
Ben Campbell (65) and David Puig (66) never really posed a challenge for the rock-solid Bhullar.
Amazingly, in four of Bhullar’s last five wins, fellow Indians have either been sole second or tied second.
An added bonus for Bhullar was that his victory catapulted him from 46th place on The International Series Order of Merit to eighth. Those from second to eight place are fast tracked into the second round of the LIV Golf Promotions event in three weeks in Abu Dhabi. The top three finishers there will earn places in next year’s LIV Golf League. PTI Corr PDS PDS PDS