Gaganjeet Bhullar produced one of the best rounds of his career when he needed it most to end India's four-year long title drought on the Asian Tour.
Bhullar's victory at the $500,000 Mandiri Indonesia Open Sunday at Pondok Indah Golf Course was also a landmark result as he became the first player to win the tournament on three occasions.
He produced one of the finest rounds of his career to return a bogey-free seven-under-par 65 for a tournament total of 20 under, and a two-shot victory over England’s Steve Lewton, who carded a 64, and India’s Rashid Khan, in with a 68.
Khan had started the day in front with Thailand’s Atiruj Winaicharoenchai but Bhullar was unstoppable and a man on a mission, making three birdies on the front, and four on the back – which included three on the trot from the 13th.
Bhullar showed no sign of Sunday nerves and put on a putting masterclass, holing brilliant birdie putts and crucial par saves, to record his 10th win on the Asian Tour and first since 2018. He has also won more titles on Tour than any other player from his country.
“I played like a champion tee to green and gave myself so many birdie opportunities,” said the 34-year-old Indian, who won this event in 2013 and 2016, with the latter win here at Pondok Indah.
“I was riding high on confidence, hit the ball really good. It is a great week, I had a lot of positive memories having won this tournament two times previous, that was definitely on my subconscious mind. The goal was just to go out there and give my 100 percent.”
Bhullar also won his first event on Tour in Indonesia back in 2009 and joins an elite group of players who have won a National Open in Asia at least three times. The list includes Peter Thomson, Hong Kong Open and Indian Open; Jyoti Randhawa, Indian Open; Adam Scott, Singapore Open; Jumbo Ozaki and Tommy Nakajima, Japan Open; Lu Liang-Huan, aka ‘Mr Lu’, Philippine Open and Taiwan Open; and Miguel Angel Jimenez, Hong Kong Open.
“This is my first win after becoming a father and I would like to dedicate this win to my 11-month-old daughter. Also, after over two difficult years because of COVID it’s just amazing the Asian Tour is back in this wonderful country. The support for me here has been incredible.”
Lewton stormed through with four birdies in the last seven holes, including on 17 and 18.
He said: “It was fun. Yeah, played really good this weekend. It felt like I left quite a few out there, but on the whole, seeing as I haven’t played for a while, I played really well.”
Khan also made up ground over the closing holes with four birdies on the homeward stretch having started with nine straight pars.
“It was a little confusing for me the start,” said the Indian.
“I couldn’t make any birdies on the first nine holes, so it was a little difficult for me to come back after that. I had my first birdie on the 10th so I got a little thinking that I can make few more. When I checked the score Bhullar played a really good round today, shot seven under and bogey free.”
Bhullar, Lewton and Khan and the rest of the field now head for next week’s International Series Singapore next week at Tanah Merah Country Club.