Jakarta, Indonesia: Gaganjeet Bhullar made history with his victory in the US$500,000 Mandiri Indonesia Open, becoming the first player to win the tournament on three occasions.
The Indian produced one of the finest rounds of his career to return a bogey-free seven-under-par 65 at Pondok Indah Golf Course for a tournament total of 20-under.
That gave him a two-shot victory over England’s Steve Lewton, who carded a 64, and Indian Rashid Khan, in with a 68.
Khan had started the day in front with Thailand’s Atiruj Winaicharoenchai but Bhullar was unstoppable and a man on a mission, making three birdies on the front, and four on the back, including three on the trot from the 13th.
Bhullar showed no sign of Sunday nerves and put on a putting masterclass, holing out for birdies and crucial par saves, to record his 10th win on the Asian Tour and first since 2018. He has won more titles on Tour than any other player from his country.
“I played like a champion tee-to-green and gave myself so many birdie opportunities,” said the 34-year-old, who won this event in 2013 and 2016, with the latter win also at Pondok Indah.
“I was riding high on confidence, hit the ball really good. I had a lot of positive memories having won this tournament twice previously. That was definitely on my sub-conscious mind. The goal was just to go out there and give 100 per cent.”
Bhullar, who won his first event on Tour in Indonesia in 2009, 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); Masashi ‘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. After 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.”
Lewton stormed through with four birdies in the last seven holes, including on 17 and 18. Khan also made up ground over the closing holes with four birdies on the homeward stretch having started with nine straight pars.
Bhullar, Lewton and Khan now head to the International Series Singapore at Tanah Merah Country Club next week.