Brilliant Bhullar in Control

Thu 11 Oct 2012

Brilliant Bhullar in Control

Macau, October 11: In-form Indian Gaganjeet Bhullar rode on an eagle’s wing to shoot a sizzling eight-under-par 63 for a two-shot lead after the first round of the US$750,000 Venetian Macau Open on Thursday.

The talented Bhullar was man of the hour at the challenging Macau Golf and Country Club with his brilliant shot-making as Thailand’s Prom Meesawat and Scott Hend of Australia led the chasing pack with matching 65s.

Three-time Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand produced a bogey-free 66 for a share of fourth place with Ireland’s Niall Turner, Australian Kieran Pratt and Bangladeshi Siddikur, who sank a hole-in-one on the par three sixth hole in the popular tournament which is title sponsored for the first time by Venetian Macau-Resort-Hotel.

Welshman Ian Woosnam, a former Masters Tournament champion, launched his campaign with a solid 68, one better than playing partner and two-time Macau Open winner Zhang Lian-wei of China.

In his last five starts on the Asian Tour, Bhullar has won once and finished second and ninth. An opening bogey didn’t matter for the 24-year-old Indian whose superb ball-striking yielded an eagle from 35 feet on the second hole and seven other birdies.

“When you know mentally that you’re striking the ball good, it’ll be a matter of putting and if you putt well, you will score. Today was one of those Super Sunday putting,” said a delighted Bhullar, who is a three-time winner.

“I canned that putt (on two). It changed the whole game plan. I made a lot of close birdies but holed a lot of long putts. Holed two from 40 feet. That changed the score.”

Bhullar holds Macau close to his heart as he finished second here three years ago. With his good form, the Indian believes he can contend again come Sunday. “This course is one of my favourite courses in Asia. It will be lovely to have a victory under my belt on this course,” he said.

“In the off season, I’ve worked really hard. I knew that the game is there. It was just a matter of patience. Putting was one thing. I am streaky with the putting, very inconsistent. But I think that has been sorted out. I changed my posture a bit and it’s been helping me this year.”

The burly Prom, nicknamed the Big Dolphin due to his physique and the fact that he hails from a coastal town, made five birdies on his outward nine before settling for a 65. He said his fitness regime has given him the edge during a hectic run of year-end events.

“I started on the tough nine (back nine) and birdied the 10th which was a good start. I made a long putt and it gave me confidence. The pins were tough,” he said.

“During the (mid-season) break, I got myself ready for the rest of the year. I went to the gym as I knew I had to play six or seven weeks in a row. This is my fourth week and I’m still very fit. I think it’s the fittest I’ve been.”

Big-hitting Hend stayed patient at the demanding Macau layout, which rewards precision play. He used his driver only on four occasions as he picked up eight birdies, including on all the par fives.

“You have to manage the golf course or the course will manage you,” said Hend, who won the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic earlier this year.

He finished top-10 last week in the CJ Invitational Hosted by KJ Choi to qualify for the cash-rich CIMB Classic in Malaysia later this month and with the top-eight players on the Order of Merit qualifying for the lucrative HSBC Champions in China after this week, Hend, currently on the bubble, is determined to get into the Champions.

If I don’t play well this week, I won’t get in it. That’s the key. I’ve put in the hard work. Like someone famous said, the harder you work, the luckier you’ll get. I’m also starting to recover from my operation in July. I’m getting stronger,” said Hend, who underwent surgery for a thyroid problem.

The towering Turner was also impressive, shooting five birdies in his opening seven holes which would have impressed his girlfriend who is watching him play for the first time.The start was amazing … I made a lot of birdies which is fun. My ball striking has been very good. If I putt very well, I’ll do alright,” said Turner.

About The Venetian® Macao-Resort-Hotel

Founded in 2007, The Venetian® Macao-Resort-Hotel is Macao's first integrated resort featuring stunning replicas of the famous canals and architectural icons of Venice, Italy. The Venetian Macao features 3,000 suites, 1.2 million square feet (111,000 square metres) of convention and meeting facilities as well as a 15,000-seat CotaiArena designed for world-class sports events and electrifying entertainment. The Venetian Macao is also home to the unique, 1,800-seat luxury Venetian Theatre, hosting the best in international and Chinese entertainment; more than 30 renowned restaurants; MALO Clinic Health & Wellness; the incredibly fun Qube indoor playground and more than 300 retailers at Shoppes Grand Canal. Outdoor recreation areas include swimming pools and cabanas and a mini-golf course.

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About the Asian Tour

As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), BlackBerry (Official Communications Partner), Cityneon (Official Event Overlay Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.