Matured Bhullar feeling confident for CIMB Classic

Wed 10 Oct 2018

Matured Bhullar feeling confident for CIMB Classic

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Kuala Lumpur, October 10: Indian star Gaganjeet Bhullar is confident he can contend at the US$7 million CIMB Classic which starts on Thursday. 

The 30-year-old is enjoying a superb season on the Asian Tour where he won his ninth title in August and currently sits in fifth place on the Habitat for Humanity Standings.

Making his fourth appearance at the CIMB Classic, Bhullar believes his form is peaking at the right time as he prepares to challenge for honours at the TPC Kuala Lumpur, West Course.

Bhullar will be among four Indians this week which includes former Asian Tour number one Anirban Lahiri, who finished tied third in the showpiece in 2016, Shubhankar Sharma and Rahil Gangjee.

Sanghyun Park of Korea, ranked second on the Habitat for Humanity Standings, will also feature in the event alongside defending champion Pat Perez and two-time CIMB Classic champion Justin Thomas.

Bhullar admits he was in awe of the PGA Tour players when he played in the 2012, 2013 and 2016 editions but he feels his game has improved tremendously ahead of the ninth staging of the CIMB Classic.

Lahiri, the 2015 Asian Tour number one, raced against time to travel to Malaysia from the United States after receiving news on Monday that he had qualified for the event after Andrew Landry had withdrawn.

John Catlin, the first player to win three times on the Asian Tour in 2018, will play in his first PGA TOUR event. The American, who rose from the Asian Development Tour (ADT) ranks will enter the tournament with high confidence after winning on Sunday in Chinese Taipei.

Malaysia’s Ben Leong said he was lucky to be part of the elite field after Gavin Green withdrew from the tournament. As the second highest ranked Malaysian in the world, Leong was next in line to qualify for the event.

Did you know?

  • Bhullar is the only Indian to win nine times on the Asian Tour following his victory in Fiji in August.
  • He played in three editions of the CIMB Classic with his best result in tied 10th place in the 2012 showpiece, albeit on a different golf course.
  • This will be Bhullar’s fourth appearance in the CIMB Classic since 2016.
  • In his nine Asian Tour victories, Bhullar has won in Indonesia (three times), Thailand, Chinese Taipei (twice), Macao, Korea and Fiji. He has yet to taste success in Malaysia.
  • With 50% of the earnings counted on the Asian Tour this week, Bhullar can narrow Shubhankar Sharma’s lead on the Habitat for Humanity Standings where he trails by US$210,619
  • Lahiri came close to winning the CIMB Classic in 2016. He led by four shots heading into the final round but a 72 dashed his title hopes as he settled for tied third place. He was also tied 10th in last year’s edition.
  • He had a nervous wait to qualify for the CIMB Classic as he was the first alternate in the elite field before finally getting into the tournament on Monday.
  • Catlin earned his Asian Tour card after finishing third on the Asian Development Tour Order of Merit last year. This is his first PGA Tour event after a successful season on the Asian Tour where he won three titles.
  • Leong is playing in his second CIMB Classic. He played in the event in 2015 where he finished in a share of 64th place.

Player quotes:

Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind)

I know this is definitely my favorite tournament of the year. We all look forward to playing this tournament. It's a great opportunity for us and really excited, really happy to be back here. The golf course is in a great shape. I mean, this year it's got a really strong field, so it's going to be really, really stiff competition.

I've been playing quite consistent and quite well this year. The victory in Fiji gave me a lot of confidence. Yes, my best result at the CIMB Classic was at Mines Golf & Country Club, but I think the best is yet to come. I've played on this golf course quite a few times and anything is possible.

As a player I've really matured over the period of years. This is my fourth attempt, so every time I come here I get to learn so many new things. I would say I'm a better player this time, better chance at it and looking at it, I’m feeling really confident.

Thanks for making me old. But yes, it is kind of a strong feeling I would say. I'm feeling more like mature golfer and a lot of the familiar faces this week. I've played with them here in 2012, '13, '16, so feeling really confident to be back.

Ben Leong of Malaysia

Anirban Lahiri (Ind)

I'm quite relieved actually. I made my plans in the offseason assuming that I would play, so I kind of expected myself to be playing so it came as a bit of a surprise.

It was funny actually. I played a round with Brendan Grace back in Florida the weekend before Napa, so like 10 days ago. Brendan's the one who told me like (inaudible.) What are you talking about? I hadn't even looked because it's always gone down past 100, comfortably past 100. Like what do you mean? He was like, no, no. He was looking for himself because he's first alternate for Korea. He said, I was looking for myself and I'm alternate for Korea and I was looking at the CIMB list and I saw you're not in.

That's when I checked. I said but it's already too late because they usually go about four weeks before the event.

I didn't bother asking for an invite because I didn't think I would need it. If you make it to the second Playoff event, you're pretty much guaranteed to play here. Apparently not.

Yesterday I got here and I went straight to Rahil Gangjee’s room and we were sitting and chatting for like two, three hours just catching up and that's fun. I miss that obviously. So that's what it's like coming here. Even now I'm just walking around, I know so many familiar faces, just catching up and saying hello. It's become like a yearly affair where I kind of catch up with everyone. Obviously when we have the Eurasia Cup, that's the other time that you usually come to KL.

John Catlin (Usa)

I mean, this is where I wanted to be since I was 12 years old. Surprisingly, it feels more like home than I ever thought it would. I thought I would show up and you would be nervous, you wouldn't really quite know how you feel. It just feels like another week on a really, really good golf course with very, very accomplished players.

The first two years, the Asian Tour was kind of a struggle, but I think for me it kind of had to be that way. It's always had to kind of be a little bit difficult, right? It makes me work harder.

I remember the first time I played with Gavin (Green) when he came to New Mexico, I was just in awe of how good he was. I was like, well, I'd better get better, this guy's just going to surpass me and I won't play another tournament as long as I'm here.

Similar to showing up on the Asian Tour, you play with these guys, like man, these are great players. I have to play well just to make the cut. Kind of an eye-opening experience. I think that's what kind of sparked my hard work. Then showing up here, this has been probably the easiest transition so far. I'm just like, all right, it's another week. Making it more difficult makes it that much sweeter, like I earned this.

About CIMB Group

CIMB Group is one of ASEAN’s leading universal bank, one of the largest investment banks in Asia and one of the largest Islamic banks in the world. As the fifth largest banking group in ASEAN, we have over 36,000 staff in 15 countries across ASEAN, Asia and beyond. CIMB Investment Bank provides market-leading conventional and Islamic financial advice for a tailored delivery of banking solutions to our clients. We have structured and executed award winning deals which showcase our ability to innovate and help our clients achieve their goals. CIMB also has an extensive retail banking network of around 830 branches serving more than 14 million customers. Beyond ASEAN, we also have presence in China & Hong Kong, India, Sri Lanka, Korea, the US and the UK. Read more about CIMB Group at www.cimb.com

About 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 Rolex (Official Timekeeper), Panasonic (Official Consumer Electronics), Habitat for Humanity (Official Sustainable Development Partner), ECCO (Official Footwear Sponsor), Titleist and FootJoy (Official Web Partner), Bloomberg TV (Official International Media Partner), Bloomberg Businessweek Chinese (Official International Media Partner), Wall Street Journal (Official International Media Partner) and Sentosa in Singapore which is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.

About PGA TOUR

By showcasing golf’s greatest players, the PGA TOUR engages, inspires and positively impacts our fans, partners and communities worldwide.The PGA TOUR co-sanctions more than 130 tournaments on the PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions, Web.com Tour, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada and PGA TOUR Series-China. Members on the PGA TOUR represent the world’s best players, hailing from 27 countries (88 members are from outside the United States). Worldwide, PGA TOUR tournaments are broadcast to more than 1 billion households in 226 countries and territories in 23 languages. Virtually all tournaments are organized as non-profit organizations to maximize charitable giving. In 2017, tournaments across all Tours generated a record of more than $180 million for local and national charitable organizations, bringing the all-time total to $2.65 billion.The PGA TOUR's website is PGATOUR.COM, the No. 1 site in golf, and the organization is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.