The journey from boy to man is often defined by courage and Gaganjeet Bhullar is a perfect example. He is a tale of grime, guts and glory who opted to tread the tricky turf when most his compatriots preferred a safer passage.
But then this was his confidence that catapulted him into stardom, which is still elusive to most of his friends who learnt the basics of the game with him on the greens of Kapurthala and Chandigarh. The 23-year-old has often shown the burning desire to dominate and it’s his hunger to succeed that makes him stand out from his peer.
This Kapurthala golfer, who already has 12 titles after turning pro in 2006, isn’t afraid of aiming big as he believes only then can one achieve the desired success. Having an astonishing season -- with three PGTI victories and a win on the European Challenge Tour -- so far, Gaganjeet is enjoying the fame and fortune.
“I am enjoying the attention. This is what we all sportspersons work for. When I used to see my seniors like Jeev, Jyoti and Atwal hogging the limelight, I was always in awe of their status. I nurtured that dream myself and thankfully have reached that position too early in my career. I hope I can carry on my success and make a name for myself in the European and PGA Tours. I am learning slowly and steadily. I’ll be a better golfer and a competitor with experience,” says the golfer, who started playing the game along with his father HS Bhullar, who is a sports officer in the Indian Railways.
But golf isn’t his only love. Like any other Indian, Gaganjeet, too, was inclined to cricket in his early days and is still quite passionate about tennis. “Just as other kids I loved cricket when I was young. In a cricket frenzied country like ours, every folk gets glued to cricket! But when my dad introduced me to golf, I was so much gripped by this sport that there has never been any other sport which fancied me so much. Though tennis is my passion but I hardly get time to play,” says the champion, who is the youngest Indian player to win on the Asian Tour, the PGTI or play a Major championship.
Gaganjeet has also been working on stress management, which has helped him so far. He has taken to yoga and meditation for handling stress and pressure, which come along with the game. He also feels that physically fitness is a must and therefore has been working on his that aspect as well.
“I go to the gym 4-5 times a week. I feel I have become stronger mentally too. There were many tournaments last season that I came close to winning but couldn’t finish it off. But that’s changing now all because of Yoga and my psychologist,” said Bhullar, who has been counselled by psychologist Pradeep Aggarwal.
Bhullar, who has over-shadowed some of the biggest names in Indian golf, is an apt example of a small town boy making it big on the big stage. “I am very proud of my small town origin. Who could have thought a few years back that somebody from Kapurthala would hog the limelight in golf circuit and go on to play at this level. In fact so many games, including cricket, are full of examples of small town boys making a name for themselves internationally. I feel their upbringing, their humble background and the discipline and culture imbibed in them make them a better fighter,” says Bhullar, who has become one of the torchbearers for Indian Golf after Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa.
And the mother too is proud of her son who has brought Kapurthala in limelight as far as golf is concerned. “I feel proud of my son. I feel on the top of the world to see my son successful and well known internationally. I’m glad that he has achieved so much in a very young age.” said Sarabjeet Kaur, Gaganjeet’s mother, who herself plays golf and usually accompanies her son on the tours.
An ardent fan of Tiger Woods, Bhullar is quite inspired by the Milkha family back home. “Jeev is the torch-bearer of Indian golf. We young golfers look to him for advice and inspiration. But Flying Singh Milkha Singh (Jeev’s father) is a source of inspiration for all of us. His struggle, his achievements are in the folklore and we all derive strength from sportspersons like him,” says the youngster, who is often referred to as the ‘Tiger of Kapurthala’.
By Akshi Aggarwal