Brilliant Bhullar’s Royale Performance

Gaganjeet Bhullar with the BNI Indonesia Masters trophy. Picture by Paul Lakatos/Asian Tour.

Jakarta, Indonesia: Gaganjeet Bhullar produced a virtuoso performance to win the US$1.5 million BNI Indonesian Masters presented by TNE – his fifth title on Indonesian soil and the fourth wire-to-wire win of his career on the Asian Tour.

The 35-year-old from Amritsar eagled the par-five 18th at Royale Jakarta Golf Club for a closing four-under-par 67 to finish on 24-under – five shots ahead of second-placed Karandeep Kochhar, also from India.

Ben Campbell from New Zealand, winner of the Hong Kong Open last Sunday, and Spaniard David Puig shots rounds of 65 and 66 respectively to share third place, six behind Bhullar in the final event of the season on The International Series.

It marks the first time Bhullar has raised this trophy, and it will proudly sit alongside three Indonesian Open wins and one Indonesia President Invitational title.

Furthermore, it’s the 11th win of his career on the Asian Tour – the most by an Indian, with Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa next best with eight titles. It’s also his first victory since winning the Mandiri Indonesia Open in August of last year.

He started the day with a seven-shot lead and was in complete control before a couple of mistakes over the closing stages kept the large gallery guessing.

On the par-three 15th he shocked everyone when he found water with his tee shot. But after taking a drop he played a superb third to six feet and holed the putt for bogey.

His lead was cut to three at that point from Kochhar and Puig and when he left his second shot short in a tricky lie on the grassy slope of a greenside bunker on the par-four 16th it looked as if the gap would be closed further.

However, he made arguably the shot of the tournament when he holed the shot for an unlikely birdie to restore his lead to four. His eagle on 18 was set up by a beautifully struck fairway wood to 20 feet.

“It wasn’t that easy. This is my fourth Asian Tour win wire-to-wire,” said Bhullar, who showed incredible mental fortitude to win having led the event since his opening round 63.

“This was a victory with a seven-shot lead and I just kept telling myself I have done that in the past and I am ready to do that this week.

“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.”

His other wire-to-wire wins came in the Macao Open in 2012 and 2017 and at the 2013 Indonesia Open.

“Overall, I think it is a great sense of achievement for myself and I am really proud of myself,” added Bhullar, who revealed that his grandmother was born in Indonesia.

“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.”  

An added bonus for him is that victory catapulted him from 46th place on The International Series Order of Merit to eighth, and it’s only those from second to eight who are fast tracked into the second round of the LIV Golf Promotions event in three weeks’ time in Abu Dhabi. The top three finishers there will earn places on next year’s LIV Golf League.

Kochhar will also be competing in Abu Dhabi after celebrating his best finish on the Asian Tour.

He said: “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.

“I think I did that very well. I was patient throughout, gave myself opportunities and made some good putts down the stretch. A couple of good two putts in the end, which kept the momentum going.”

The Asian Tour heads to Chinese-Taipei next for the Taiwan Glass Taifong Open. The US$400,000 tournament, which is making its debut on the Asian Tour having previously been played on the Asian Development Tour, will be staged at Taifong Golf Club from November 30 to December 3.

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