At the age of 29, Gaganjeet Bhullar is now the youngest ever player to win eight Asian Tour titles following his victory at the Macao Open on Sunday.
His outstanding record which belies his age is testament to his star credentials. He is now tied on Asian Tour victories alongside childhood heroes Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa. He only trails Scott Hend of Australia (nine), Prayad Marksaeng (10), Thongchai Jaidee (13) and Thaworn Wiratchant (18).
But what makes his victory at the Macao Open even more amazing is the fact that no other player has achieved his success before turning 30 on the Asian Tour.
When Randhawa and Atwal won their eighth Asian Tour title, they were aged 36 and 41 respectively while Hend was 42 and Prayad was 48. Thai stars Thongchai and Thaworn were 37 and 38 when they reached eight wins on the region’s premier Tour.
Gaganjeet’s solid track record would have been even more impressive if not for a wrist injury which curtailed his career in 2014 and 2015. The injury did not bog him down for long as he returned to winning ways at the 2016 Shinhan Donghae Open in Korea.
He credited his success to hard work and a new partnership with his coach Noah Montgomery.
“I started working with my coach in the summer and we’ve been working really hard on my game. He changed a few technical aspects in my swing and that’s really helped me. Overall the attitude and my point of view towards the game and winning have changed,” said Bhullar.
The win pushed him to 12th place on the Order of Merit and with seven Asian Tour tournaments with a total prize purse of US$6.65 million still on offer, Bhullar is not discounting his chances of making a run for the top spot on the Merit ranking.
“It has been my childhood dream to win the Order of Merit. I’ve seen my heroes Arjun (Atwal), Jyoti (Randhawa) and Jeev (Milkha Singh) win the Order of Merit. I would love to do the same and the goal for the rest of the season is to play like how I’m playing and stay in the positive mood,” Gaganjeet Bhullar said.
Bhullar trails current Merit leader Gavin Green of Malaysia by slightly over US$320,000. David Lipsky of the United States and Scott Hend of Australian remained in second and third place with earnings of US$461,179 and US$434,029 respectively.
Indians S.S.P. Chawrasia (US$340,761) and Anirban Lahiri (US$320,150) are in fourth and fifth position followed by Thai teenager Phachara Khongwatmai (US$301,852) in sixth place.
This week, the Asian Tour will head to the Indonesia Open where Bhullar will defend his title. The Tour will also be well represented by its leading players at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China this week.
Asian Tour Order of Merit – Top-20
Pos Player Order of Merit (US$)
- Gavin GREEN (MAS) $542,536.06
- David LIPSKY (USA) $461,179.11
- Scott HEND (AUS) $434,029.60
- S.S.P. CHAWRASIA (IND) $340,761.61
- Anirban LAHIRI (IND) $320,150.00
- Phachara KHONGWATMAI (THA) $301,852.41
- Poom SAKSANSIN (THA) $299,678.51
- Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) $288,975.43
- Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN) $284,489.61
- Prayad MARKSAENG (THA) $272,308.02
- Juvic PAGUNSAN (PHI) $232,971.27
- Richard T. LEE (CAN) $228,884.08
- Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) $215,335.98
- Younghan SONG (KOR) $208,231.59
- Jason NORRIS (AUS) $197,246.00
- Carlos PIGEM (ESP) $192,413.21
- Shiv KAPUR (IND) $182,719.62
- K.T. KIM (KOR) $180,466.93
- Todd SINNOTT (AUS) $179,545.89
- Johannes VEERMAN (USA) $176,371.32