TAIPEI: Indian golfer Gaganjeet Bhullar ended a 32-month winless streak to clinch his third Asian Tour title at the weather-hit Yeangder Tournament Players Championship after carding a steady three-under 69 in the final round here today.
Bhullar, who finished second at the Worldwide Selangor Masters in Malaysia last week, struck birdies in two of the last three holes to win by four shots.
“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.
The win at the USD 500,000 event at the Linkou International Golf Club fetched Bhullar USD 79,250. His previous Asian Tour titles were the Indonesia President Invitational in 2009 and the Asian Tour International in 2010.
Bhullar, who had rounds of 66 and 69, added a 69 in the third and final round of the tournament that was shortened to following rain and typhoon hitting the venue on the second and third days.
Bhullar totaled 12-under 204 as Thai Thaworn Wiratchant (72), winner ahead of Bhullar last week in Malaysia, and Jason Knutzon (71) finished at eight-under 208 for the tied second place.
Among other Indians, Himmat Rai (71, 70, 71) was tied ninth and Anirban Lahiri (74, 70, 72) was tied 27th and Chiragh Kumar (74, 70, 71) was tied 23rd. Ajeetesh Sandhu (73, 74, 72) was tied 53rd.
Bhullar, beaten by Thaworn in Malaysia a week ago, made amends at the Yeangder TPC, which was reduced to 54-holes.
“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. Bhullar 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 a 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.
Thaworn’s hopes of making a bid for the title suffered a big blow when he was docked a shot for slow play. Thaworn 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.
But for Knutzon it was his best result of the season.
American-Korean David Lipsky continued his dream run in 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 USD 500,000 this year. -PTI