Bengaluru: Gaganjeet Bhullar has two titles in his bag already and he has now set his sights higher. Coming in fresh from his win at the Venetian Macau Open, Bhullar, knows that even the Asian Tour Order of Merit is within his reach this season.
For the present his sights are set on the Hero Indian Open this week. “It is always a matter of pride to play and win the National Open. Last year I was unwell and I want to make up,” said Bhullar.
The Asian Tour is in Bengaluru this week for the US$1.25 million Hero Indian Open where title holder David Gleeson of Australia will lead an elite cast along with hometown heroes that include the experienced and three-time Indian Open winner, Jyoti Randhawa, Bengaluru’s very own Anirban Lahiri, Shiv Kapur, Himmat Rai, former champion C. Muniyappa, also from the Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) course, where the event will be held this week.
“The two wins, multiple category right now, winning the Order of Merit would be nice,” said Bhullar, , who moved to fifth place on the Order of Merit after earning US$118,875 from his fourth Asian Tour victory in Macau. Three Indians have won the Asian Tour Order of Merit in the past – Jyoti Randhawa (2002), Arjun Atwal (2003) and Jeev Milkha Singh (2006 and 2008) – and now Bhullar feels he is ready to join that elite group.
Like many of his generation who grew up playing golf, Bhullar looked up to a host of golf greats to inspire him to reach the upper echelons of the game. Korea’s K.J. Choi and American Ben Curtis are names that resonate well with Bhullar and the three played together recently at the CJ Invitational in Korea.
“There’re a lot of big weeks coming up. Singapore, Hong Kong, Johor and the Indian Open, Obviously, it’s not that far (from his position on the Order of Merit) and a few good weeks can jump my ranking to number one,” added Bhullar
Bhullar added, “Jeev has set targets for us and I would say we need to work really hard.” The Indian is confident that he can take over the mantle and continue to put India on the world map when his illustrious compatriots decide to call time on their career.
“I guess the next responsibility of Indian golf is on our shoulders, including Himmat Rai and Anirban Lahiri. We are the future of Indian golf. We have to prove to the people that the next generation is ready to take over,” said Bhullar.
Bhullar may be the man of the moment, but he knows he needs to play catch-up if he wants to be mentioned in the same breath as world number one Rory McIlroy.
“I’ve played junior golf with Rory McIlroy and look at Rory, he’s world number one. If you look at that, I’m really slow. There’s a lot of golf left. The next few years, I will take my game to the next level,” said Bhullar
“I have thought about the European Tour and PGA Tour. Last year, I tried the PGA Tour Qualifying School. But this year, I’m not exempt. It didn’t make sense for me to skip the big tournaments in Asia as I would lose my world ranking points. So it’s better I play well in these tournaments, gain world ranking points and go straight to the PGA Tour,” added Bhullar.
Australia’s Marcus Fraser continues to lead the Asian Tour money rankings with US$472,094, followed by South Africa’s Jbe Kruger on US$453,588 and Japan’s Masanori Kobayashi with US$400,289. Bhullar is fifth, Shiv Kapur tenth and Lahiri is 12th.
By Indian Sports News Network