In-form Bhullar looks to taste success in Japan

In his nine Asian Tour victories, Gagnjeet Bhullar has won in Indonesia (three times), Thailand, Chinese Taipei (twice), Macao, Korea and Fiji — though he admits to struggles in Japan, a country where his best result was tied 51st place in 2009.

India's Gaganjeet Bhullar hits a shot during the final round of the Indonesia Open golf tournament at the Pondok Indah Golf Course in Jakarta.   -  AFP

India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar will be eyeing his maiden success in Japan when he tees off at the Asia-Pacific Open Golf Championship Diamond Cup which begins on Thursday.

Bhullar, who has had eight Top-10s this season including a win in Fiji, is hoping to get his 10th Asian Tour win as he hopes to build on his fine form at the USD 1.35 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organization.

Other Indians in the field include Rashid Khan - who was 15th last week in South Korea, Ajeetesh Sandhu - whose only Asian Tour win has come in Japan, Chiragh Kumar, Rahil Gangjee - who earlier in the season won in Japan, Take Solutions champion Viraj Madappa, Shiv Kapur, Arjun Atwal - the Asia captain at 2018 EurAsia Cup and amateur Jay Pandya.

The 30-year-old Bhullar will be among the top contenders which include Scott Hend of Australia, Shugo Imahira, ranked 86th on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) and Korea’s Sanghyun Park, who won his second Asian Tour title last week.

Bhullar has won in six different countries in his young career and will be looking to add Japan to his list this week. He is one victory from joining Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand as a 10-time Asian Tour winner and the ones among ahead of that are Thongchai Jaidee (13) and Thaworn Wiratchant (18).

In his nine Asian Tour victories, Bhullar has won in Indonesia (three times), Thailand, Chinese Taipei (twice), Macao, Korea and Fiji. He admits that he struggles to play his best in Japan, a country where his best result was tied 51st place in 2009.

Bhullar has already sealed his place in the CIMB Classic next month but he still needs to fight for a place in the WGC-HSBC Champions. The leading four players (not otherwise exempt) on October 7 will qualify for the tournament in China.

Bhullar holds the most number of victories by an Indian golfer on the Asian Tour. His next big goal is to win the Habitat for Humanity Standings. He currently trails countryman Shubhankar Sharma by USD 116,404.

Bhullar said, “You can only get better. Normally the second half of the season is packed up with tournaments and everybody including myself starts to gain momentum. All these tournaments are important towards the Habitat for Humanity Standings. The goal is to keep repeating what I’ve been doing in the last six or seven months and give your 100%.”

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