After Jeev Milkha Singh, Jyoti Randhawa and Arjun Atwal, Gaganjeet Bhullar is tipped to be the next big thing of Indian golf. After a successful 2009 and before leaving for Bangkok for his first event in 2010 (the Asian Tour International at the Suwan Golf and Country Club from Thursday to Sunday), Bhullar spoke to HT. Excerpts.
2009 was a breakthrough year in your pro career. How different was it from the previous years?
Before 2009, I had come close to winning but was unable to finish it off. I came 10th in an Asian Tour event in Thailand, which gave me confidence, and then I won my first Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) title in Panchkula. I played consistently well after that (he won four more PGTI titles last year, despite concentrating more on events outside India).
How was the British Open experience? Were you disappointed to miss the cut?
I had a good first round in good conditions. But on the second day it was very windy. I’m not disappointed because the experience taught me how conditions in Europe can be.
How precious was the first Asian Tour title (Indonesia President Invitational), especially after you missed it by a whisker in 2007?
It’s very close to my heart. I went there with the confidence that I could win. This confidence was the key behind my success and probably the turning point of my career.
How have you gained in terms of confidence?
The biggest gain has been the experience of playing in front of big crowds. In India, you are mostly walking the course all by yourself. But playing on the Asian Tour, you have scores of spectators following you. It was unnerving initially, but once I got used to it, I started enjoying it.
What are the areas you have to improve on?
I have started hitting the ball really well and long. What I have to work on now is my short game. My chipping and putting have to improve because that helps you convert good hits into good results.
What are you looking forward to in 2010?
In order to make it to the top tier, I must play outside India as much as I can. I missed the European Tour card for 2010, but will still get a few invitations to play in some European events. My aim will be to secure a full European Tour card for 2011 and play abroad as much as I can.