Ignorance isn't always bliss, as Gaganjeet Bhullar discovered to his chagrin. After winning the Gujarat Kensville Challenge last year, Bhullar astounded by turning down the European Challenge Tours proposal to come on board. The only Tour to offer a paid membership, the sum of euro 300 (Rs19,500 approx) wasn't the stumbling block. What hindered him was the lack of awareness.
"It was the first year of such an event here and no Indian had won on the Tour," he said on the eve of the Euro 200,000 (Rs1.3 crore) season opener. Though winding, a promotion to the next grade was there for the taking, as a top-20 finish on the Challenge Tour would have helped him secure this year's card on the European Tour. The exercise entailed criss-crossing continents in exchange for returns that don't compare with other Tours, yet Bhullar was ready for the grind.
Playing on his mind was the influence of the holy trio --- Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa. "Had one asked them, they would have never advised this route, having not played the Challenge Tour themselves. Rather, it would have been to secure the card through events co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour," he said.
Meagre returns or otherwise, the realisation that he'd erred would have dawned after the euphoria of a whirlwind start to 2011 got flattened by some ordinary results later on.
Eager to make amends and push his case for a European Tour card at any cost, Bhullar landed at the Kensville Golf and Country Club and among the first tasks was to enroll for the Challenge Tour. While a title defence would be a shot in the arm, the affiliate membership now allows him seven starts, via sponsor invites, this season.
The onus on him, Bhullar will be drawing from his previous outing here. "Muscle memory plays an important role on a familiar course as one can picture a shot before taking it," he said.