Barring the momentary joy of making birdie on the 18th, there were few signs on the cherubic face that signalled Gaganjeet Bhullar's second Asian Tour title. “It was more of relief,” Bhullar told HT after winning the Asian Tour International, the curtain-raiser of the 2010 schedule.
When the 21-year-old teed off at Bangkok's Suwan Golf and Country Club, winning was farthest on the mind. “I had hit the ball close but the results reflected otherwise, so it was frustrating,” he said of the consecutive cards of 71 before Sunday. “Putting was a sore point but things went to plan and I am lucky to be a winner.”
Staging a break from the past, the Kapurthala lad commenced operations with an eagle and went on to post consecutive birdies on 5th-7th and finished the front nine with another one. By Sunday's standards, it was a conservative start to the back nine. It was par all the way till a birdie occurred on the 15th. Explaining the approach, Bhullar said, “The back nine is harder and I told myself to make par and avoid bogeys. If birdies came along the way, I'd take them.”
The putter responding perfectly meant Bhullar, overnight tied ninth, had worked his way up to engage in a tussle for supremacy with Hwang Inn-choon. “I had to birdie the last to avoid a playoff,” he said. The wish was granted and Bhullar finished proceedings with a flawless 64, a course record.
A playoff could have ensued had the Korean not dropped a shot on his penultimate. Hwang went on to birdie the 18th but the momentum had been lost and he finished a shot shy of the Indian at 10-under 278.
Bhullar had won his maiden title on the Tour at the Indonesia President Invitational in July last, and the triumph in Thailand got the youngster chirpy on his fondness for courses in the ASEAN region. “These are countryside courses and I like the set-up. Like most courses here, Suwan is open and aids long-hitters like me, but it is very long. One has to hit 280-290 yards to keep things easy.”
More than the cheque of $47,550, Bhullar chose to focus on the positives. “Not only is it great to start the year with a win, it is a boost before next week's Avantha Masters.”