Gaganjeet Bhullar triumphs at Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways
Fiji, August 5: India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar withstood the intense pressure by producing one of the best shots of the week on the 17th hole which would eventually seal his ninth Asian Tour win at the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways on Sunday.
Staring at yet another bridesmaid finish this season, the Indian showed he would not be cowed under pressure as he holed a monstrous chip from outside the green for an eagle-three.
That eagle provided him with some relief as he would head into the last hole with a one-shot advantage over Australia’s Anthony Quayle, who had earlier broken the course record with his nine-under-par 63 at the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course.
Bhullar hit his approach shot straight onto the green on 18 and left his birdie putt just short of the hole. An easy tap-in for par for a winning total of 14-under-par 274 would soon confirm the 30-year-old as the newest winner of the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways.
Australia’s Anthony Quayle, who started the day two shots back of Bhullar, surmounted a late challenge when he stormed home with three birdies and two eagles in his back-nine.
However, it was still not enough to catch Bhullar on a day when the Indian showed great composure and mental courage.
Major winner Ernie Els of South Africa also staged a late comeback by closing with a 65 to share third place with New Zealand’s Ben Campbell at the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways, which being tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour European Tour and ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia again.
Did you know?
· Gaganjeet Bhullar picked up golf at the age of four from his father. He grew up at Kapurthala Golf Club, in a city located north of India.
· Bhullar was India’s number one amateur in 2004 and 2006 and claimed a silver medal in the team event at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha. He also won the World Junior Masters Championship in 2005.
· Prior to his latest victory at the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airway, Bhullar had five top-10s which included two runner-up finishes at the Maekyung Open and Queen’s Cup in Korea and Thailand respectively.
· With his ninth Asian Tour victory, Bhullar holds the most number of wins by an Indian golfer on the Asian Tour.
· Anthony Quayle broke the course record at the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course. With his final round 63. It was previously held by Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond who carded a 64 in his final round last year.
“It was a tough day. It was windy, flags were tough, but I played really well. I gave myself many, many opportunities today,” said Bhullar.
“The key was I got on to a really good start, I was three under after four holes and I think that kept me going. And just around the turn things were actually getting a little tough for me, but I think I managed to make a really good par save on number 10.
“That gave me a lot of boost, a lot of confidence. After that, it was just one shot at a time and I was just able to execute. I was mentally prepared for that. I knew somebody or another had to go low today. Even Ernie Els, he’s a legend, he was playing really well.
“Anthony, I know his game, he played really well. Nine-under out there in these conditions, that’s a great round of golf. Even though after number 16, I still had hopes, I still had kind of a feeling that I can still win the tournament, but I think that chip in on 17, that pretty much closed the deal.
“I had a little bit of an idea that this chip is going to run a lot, but it wasn’t an easy chip, I could have easily missed up and down and settled for second or third.
“This kind of good form was definitely building up from last, I would say, two months, I had two good finishes. In fact, more than two, but two runner up finishes on the Asian Tour. I’ve been playing really well. It was just a matter of time and I’m glad it happened on this stage.”
Leading scores after round 4 of the Fiji International being played at the par 72, 6575 Metres Natadola Bay CGC course (am – denotes amateur):
274 – Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 70-69-69-66.
275 – Anthony Quayle (AUS) 75-66-71-63.
276 – Ernie Els (RSA) 72-70-69-65, Ben Campbell (NZL) 67-66-77-66.
278 – Jarryd Felton (AUS) 67-71-71-69.
280 – Poom Saksansin (THA) 73-68-71-68, Andrew Dodt (AUS) 67-70-72-71, Jake McLeod (AUS) 72-67-70-71.
282 – Matthew Millar (AUS) 71-73-71-67, Andrew Martin (AUS) 72-71-70-69.