Taipei: India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar fought his way to his third Asian Tour title by closing with three-under-par 69 at the weather-shortened Yeangder Tournament Players Championship on Monday.
Bhullar had to fend off the challenges of American Jason Knutzon and 14-time Asian Tour winner Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand to win the US$500,000 event with his three-day total of 12-under-par 204 at the Linkou International Golf and Country Club.
Knutzon enjoyed his best result of the season with his tied-second finish alongside Thaworn, whose hopes of securing a back-to-back victory effectively ended when he was left to mull a one-shot penalty incurred because of slow play.
American-Korean David Lipsky continued his dream run on his rookie season with another top-10 finish when he closed with a 70 to take a share of fourth place alongside Berry Henson of the United States and Chinese Taipei’s Lin Wen-tang and Hung Chien-yao.
The Yeangder TPC celebrated its third edition this week with the full-field Asian Tour event raising its profile further with a significant increase in its total prize fund to a record US$500,000 this year.
Having to settle for second best behind Thaworn in Malaysia a fortnight ago, Bhullar was determined to make amends for his disappointments at the Yeangder TPC which was reduced to 54-stroke play tournament because of inclement weather.
“I believe it was my fighting spirit as I told myself that I’ve got to win this tournament no matter what happens. I knew I was playing well and I played really well on the par-fives all week,” said Bhullar.
“I guess this whole week I was totally focused and I was in the zone and if I can repeat what I’ve been doing the last two rounds nobody can even touch me,” added the 24-year-old.
Bhullar held a single shot lead heading into the final round and quickly extended his advantage to two with an opening birdie on the first hole.
He dropped a shot on the third but recovered quickly with two more birdies on the fourth and eight holes to turn in 34.
After another birdie on the 10th hole, Bhullar dropped two shots on the 11th and 13th which saw his lead over Knutzon and Thaworn trimmed to one-shot.
“I’ve been in this position many times on the Asian Tour and after that it was my fighting spirit. I told myself that I had to make another birdie and it came on the 16th,” said Bhullar.
Bhullar did answer back with another two birdies in his closing three holes which included the 16th hole and par-five 18th to cement his place as the week’s best golfer.
“The par saver and tournament saver would be the putt on the 14th. I also saved another par on the 15th which was really good. Those two putts gave me lots of confidence and I told myself that if I can hole these two, I can hole a long putt for a birdie and that was what exactly happened on the 16th,” said Bhullar.
Knutzon enjoyed a welcome return to form as he secured his season’s best result with his tied-second finish on the third and final day, when sunny skies made its welcome return.
The two-time Asian Tour winner, who was seeking to end a five –year title drought, had the honour of recording the event’s first hole-in-one on the opening day.
While he finished the week four shots behind Bhullar, the American believes his wait for this third win on the Asian Tour would not be long.
“What a week it has been. I started off with the hole-in-one and I had such an awesome day the first day. I wished we were able to keep playing. It was unfortunate but the tournament did the best job it could to get all three rounds in and we got a decent finish,” said Knutzon.
“Hopefully this means more good things to come. I feel pretty good and hopefully I can get it moving after this,” added Knutzon.
Thaworn, meanwhile received his second bad timing on the 17th hole which resulted in a one-shot penalty under the Asian Tour’s pace of play rules.
Chinese Taipei’s Lin Wen-tang made a spirited charge towards the finishing line but left it too late after earlier rounds of 67 and 75.
Lin turned in 34 after mixing three birdies and a bogey and gained further momentum with three successive birdies starting from the 12th hole.
He parred the rest of the holes to match his opening best of 67.
“I just couldn’t get my putter going in the second round. I played really well today but I guess it was the second round that cost me the tournament this week,” said Lin, a five-time Asian Tour winner.
By Indian Sports News Network