India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar withstood the intense pressure by producing one of the best shots of the week on the 17th hole which would eventually seal his ninth Asian Tour win at the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways on Sunday.
Bhullar has already had a terrific 2018 with 5 Top-10s and 2 runner-ups finishes and with his win today he won his ninth Asian Tour Title and maiden on the European Tour and PGA of Australia, becoming only the sixth Indian to win on the European Tour.
Bhullar’s win has guaranteed him the European Tour card, a confirmed place for him at CIMB Classic (PGA Tour event) at Kuala Lumpur, and an opportunity to play at the CJ Cup in Korea, a week after.
His chances of getting into the team along with Shubhankar Sharma too look strong if he wins another event by 3rd September 2018, and we might see three Indians play at the 2019 Presidents Cup.
“It was a tough day. It was windy, flags were tough, but I played really well. I gave myself many, many opportunities today. The key was I got on to a really good start, I was three under after four holes and I think that kept me going. And just around the turn things were actually getting a little tough for me, but I think I managed to make a really good par save on number 10. That gave me a lot of boost, a lot of confidence. After that, it was just one shot at a time and I was just able to execute. I was mentally prepared for that. I knew somebody or another had to go low today. Even Ernie Els, he’s a legend, he was playing really well. Anthony, I know his game, he played really well. Nine-under out there in these conditions, that’s a great round of golf. Even though after number 16, I still had hopes, I still had kind of a feeling that I can still win the tournament, but I think that chip in on 17, that pretty much closed the deal. I had a little bit of an idea that this chip is going to run a lot, but it wasn’t an easy chip, I could have easily missed up and down and settled for second or third. This kind of good form was definitely building up from last, I would say, two months, I had two good finishes. In fact, more than two, but two runner-up finishes on the Asian Tour. I’ve been playing really well. It was just a matter of time and I’m glad it happened on this stage.”
Bhullar wins at $970,000 Fiji International
Staring at yet another bridesmaid finish this season, the Indian showed he would not be cowed under pressure as he holed a monstrous chip from outside the green for an eagle three.
That eagle provided him with some relief as he would head into the last hole with a one-shot advantage over Australia’s Anthony Quayle, who had earlier broken the course record with his nine-under-par 63 at the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course.
Bhullar hit his approach shot straight onto the green on 18 and left his birdie putt just short of the hole. An easy tap-in for par for a winning total of 14-under-par 274 would soon confirm the 30-year-old as the newest winner of the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways.
Australia’s Anthony Quayle, who started the day two shots back of Bhullar, surmounted a late challenge when he stormed home with three birdies and two eagles in his back-nine. His efforts resulted in him breaking the course record with a final round 63, previously held by the Thai Jazz Janewattananond who shot a 64 last year.
The win ensured that he is the first Asian to win the coveted Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways, started in 2014, all the previous winner’s name listed were either from the USA or Australia on a rotational basis.
He had a grip from the very start when he finished T-8 in the opening round and later kept climbing up the ladders, keeping himself under the Top-10 on the leaderboard and finally taking home a fat winners cheque of US$ 154,164 (INR1,05,62,546) and moving to the fourth position on the Habitat for Humanity Standings from 10th with the seasons earning of $357,629.
Now he will be returning India for the Take Solutions Masters scheduled next week and his 10th win on the Asian Tour might be the only thing left to achieve there.