Dongguan, China: Gaganjeet Bhullar reinforced his growing reputation in the world of golf with a magnificent nine-under-par 63 moving him to tied eighth place after the third round of the US$7 million WGC-HSBC Champions on Saturday.
The talented 24-year-old, who has won twice on the Asian Tour in the past two months, fired nine birdies in a flawless round at the Mission Hills Golf Club’s Olazabal course to improve from his overnight 27th placing with a 12-under-par 204 total.
Bhullar’s brilliant effort was the third lowest round of a thrilling day in Asia’s richest championship. American Brand Snedeker shot a spectacular 60 after narrowly missing out on a magical 59 with a missed birdie chance on 18 while England’s Lee Westwood fired a 61 to grab a share of the third round lead on 198 with halfway leader Louis Oosthuizen, who shot a 70.
A week after finishing top-10 at the co-sanctioned Asian Tour and PGA Tour event in Malaysia, Bhullar has maintained his impressive form against another stellar line-up at the HSBC Champions, Asia’s lone World Golf Championships event.
“It was a smooth 63. Trust me, it was a great round. I had 16 greens in regulation, nine birdies, nine pars. We kind of expect this kind of round when you play good. It's been a long time I've shot low 60. I came here with a lot of positivity in my game. Hit the ball really well and I made nine birdies and nine pars, probably the best I've ever done in my life,” said Bhullar.
“You know, I have shot 62 once in an Asian Tour tournament but to shoot a low number in such a big tournament, it means a lot. It will definitely help me in my future tournaments.”
After arriving in China late Tuesday due to a visa snag which denied him a practice round, Bhullar knew he would eventually master the greens on the Olazabal course to take advantage of his solid ball striking. And he struck it hot with his putter on Saturday, needing only 21 putts. He also lamented missing four birdie chances from inside 10 feet.
“I just told myself to stick to the routine and the process and just kept on doing that all day long, and when I walked out of the 18th green and realised I shot nine under, so that was the trick. Hopefully I’m going to do that again and again,” said Bhullar, who is currently fifth on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit.
“I hit 16 greens in regulation and most of them like really close within 10, 15 feet. And I had a great start, I missed greens in regulation on the first, just left of the green and chipped in for birdie.”
Bhullar will start the final round six shots back of Oosthuizen and Westwood but the young Indian dares to dream of victory. The best result by an Asian Tour member in the WGC was Thongchai Jaidee’s tied fifth finishes at the Accenture Match Play two years ago and American Express Championship in 2006.
“You know, golf is a crazy game. You never know what's going to happen next. Yeah, I saw a lot of low numbers. Brandt Snedeker shot 60 … I thought mine was the best,” he said.
“There is a lot of low scoring this week. A lot of golf left, and it's a WGC. Guys are good and I’m expecting a lot of good golf for Sunday afternoon.
Bhullar is regarded as a member of the new generation of young stars to emerge from the Asian Tour and he credited the rise to the experience of competing against top fields on a regular basis.
“I would say I think the secret is playing more and more tournaments globally. The Asian Tour is a Tour that I started playing golf and then took up affiliate membership on The European Tour.
“I think you play all over the world that gives you a lot of confidence, especially when you come and play in these big tournaments, that confidence helps you to shoot low numbers.”
Countryman Jeev Milkha Singh carded a 73 for tied 46th position on 216.
By Indian Sports News Network