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Bhullar is the king at Kensville Challenge

The murmur was getting louder and in an effort to placate the motley crowd, the live band churned out popular numbers.

other Updated: Jan 16, 2011 23:54 IST
Robin Bose

The murmur was getting louder and in an effort to placate the motley crowd, the live band churned out popular numbers.

At an arm’s length, a giant screen and an equally massive but tastefully decorated stage lorded over the seating area, which was surrounded by a bevy of security personnel in varying outfits. The Gujarat Kensville Challenge was inching towards its climax but the setting around the clubhouse had the trappings of a political rally.

Be it the dhoti-clad village elderly or the smartly turned out entrepreneur, the wait for chief minister Narendra Modi was a testing affair. That was till news trickled in from the 17th green that Gaganjeet Bhullar had dropped a shot.

The day had panned out miserably for Bhullar, who had begun with a four-shot lead. The bogey shrunk the advantage to a single stroke and with Matt Ford hot on the heels, the development wrenched the initiated out of their chairs and had them hurrying towards the 18th green of the Kensville Golf & Country Club. Placed in the group behind the leaders, Ford needed to hole a difficult 35-footer to force a possible playoff but the Englishman failed to pull off the uphill putt and the par gave Bhullar some breathing space. “On the 15th, I knew the lead had dwindled and a bout of nerves followed on the 16th and 17th, but after the tee-off on the 18th, I was confident of making par,” said Bhullar.

Starting off with a bogey wasn’t the best of starts but he wasn’t the only one to be tested by the tucked away pin positions. The early morning wind raised the degree of difficulty and Bhullar termed Sunday the “toughest of all four days”. The birdie on the 3rd was the lone bright spot and the ensuing bogey appeared to have a domino effect.

Making par till the turn restored some sanity but the dropped shot on the 10th and 17th kept eating into the lead. Watching Ford make his final par might have sent the confidence soaring but Bhullar did shy away from acknowledging that the even result on the 18th was a “piece of luck” that brought with it the cheque of euro 32,000. A spot on the European Challenge Tour is his but Bhullar has kept the decision in abeyance. “I’ll need to discuss with my parents,” he said.

The business end done with, the focus shifted to Modi and the flamboyant politician was quick to spot a Gujarat connection in the victory. “Gagan for Gujarat,” he said to a thunderous applause. For the man himself, it was time to dedicate the moment to a supportive father, who turned 51 on Friday.