Jakarta: Gaganjeet Bhullar of India hopes to make it a truly memorable year by winning the US$300,000 BANK BRI-JCB Indonesia Open which starts on Thursday.
Bhullar, who won his sixth Asian Tour title in Korea last month, is determined to continue his renaissance after struggling with a wrist injury since his win at the Indonesia Open in 2013.
A return to Indonesia, where he won his first Asian Tour title in 2009, will give him an extra spring in his step when he challenges for the prestigious trophy at the Pondok Indah Golf Course.
“I won this event in 2013 and I have fond memories in Indonesia. In fact I finished in fifth place at the Indonesian Masters last month so I always enjoy my time here,” said the 28-year-old Bhullar.
“What do I remember from my win in 2013? I remember the golden trophy afforded to the champion. I want to win it again. That’s what I really want to achieve to end the 2016 on a high note,” added the Indian.
A total of 21 Asian Tour winners will assemble at the BANK BRI-JCB Indonesia Open which includes Pavit Tangkamolprasert of Thailand, Carlos Pigem of Spain, Jeev Milkha Singh of India and Akinori Tani of Japan.
With the season coming to an end, Bhullar believes many players are eager for a good result. “You cannot take anything for granted on the Asian Tour. The guys are all coming out here trying to save their card this week or win the tournament to gain a country exemption. You never know who will win.”
Tani, playing in his first Asian Tour event this year after injuring his neck at the end of the 2015 season, will play at the BANK BRI-JCB Indonesia Open without any expectations.
“I hurt my neck and it made my left hand numb. I couldn’t event hold the club at one point. I’ve only played in small events in Japan and with my children!” laughed the Tani, who is half-Taiwanese and speaks fluent Mandarin.
“I’m so happy to receive this sponsor’s invitation by one of the biggest companies (JCB) in Japan. I want to win this tournament for them and represent Japan with pride and honour this week,” added the 2014 Asian Tour Qualifying School winner.
George Gandranata, the leading golfer in Indonesia, the highly rated Danny Masrin, Ian Andrew and Jordan Irawan are among 38 local hopefuls contending at the event which returns on the Asian Tour Schedule after a one-year hiatus.
Gandranata, a winner on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) which is the secondary circuit of the Asian Tour, is determined to become the second Indonesian to win his National Open after Kasiadi’s triumph in 1989.
“I’m proud to play in the BANK BRI-JCB Indonesia Open. It is every golfers dream to play in their National Open and try to win it. It is different when you play in your country, there’s pressure but I like having the pressure. It motivates me to do better,” said Gandranata.
Gandranata, who won the silver and bronze medals in the team and individual category respectively at the 2011 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, has his eye on claiming the Golden Trophy which is awarded to the winner of the BANK BRI-JCB Indonesia Open.
“I play to win but it won’t be easy,” said the 30-year-old, who finished tied 15th in the 2014 edition. “I have high hopes in this event and like everybody, I want to win it for my country. Golf is slowly growing but a local winner will increase the popularity of the sport by a few notches.
The 24-year-old Masrin hopes to use his experience of playing on the ADT to good use. He was among four local golfers to make the halfway cut at the Indonesian Masters in October which was a record in the event.
“The standard of golf in the country is growing. We have more local events now and the players are gaining experience by playing in Asian Tour events. The BANK BRI-JCB Indonesia Open will be another great addition for golfers to be exposed to an international golf tournament,” said Masrin.
“I’ve been playing well lately and I hope to continue the momentum. It gives me great pride to play in the Indonesia Open. It will be a challenging week with so many great Asian Tour players but I will focus on my own game and hopefully have a chance at the weekend,” he added.