32-year-old Gaganjeet Bhullar of Kapurthala shot rounds of 67-73-68-69 (7-under 277) to finish tied 2nd at the US$ 1.5mn Qatar Masters, thereby boosting his chances of retaining his European Tour playing rights after the conclusion of the 2021 season. Bhullar is currently qualified to play on the European Tour courtesy his victory at the 2018 Fiji International.
Bhullar, who started the final round two strokes behind overnight leader Darren Fichardt of South Africa crossed the US$ 100,000 season earnings mark in just 3 starts and jumped to 324th in the World Rankings, very close to Rashid Khan who is 311th and Udayan Mane, 320th in the race for a spot in the Tokyo Olympics.
Tokyo eligibility will be based on World Rankings as of June 21, 2021 and Bhullar may have an edge with a full playing schedule in Europe while the PGTI Tour where Rashid and Mane earn their points, not having announced further tournaments yet. Bhullar also moved up to 43rd on the Race to Dubai Rankings on the European Tour, where the top-60 finishers will get to play the tour finale – US$ 9mn DP World Tour Championship in November.
Bhullar recently won the PGTI’s Tour Championship in Jamshedpur in late December for his 20th professional title and said, “I had been hitting the ball really well, but there was still a frustration brewing in me, maybe because the score was not showing on my card, but other than that I had been giving myself opportunities off the tee, from the fairways. I had a feeling that a good week is around the corner and glad that I played really well, in a very tough condition over the weekend. 2020 was surely not a good season for me, I didn’t play too many events but I’m glad I’ve worked hard, stuck to the plan and this was the result of my hard work, discipline and patience.”
Other Indians in the field included multiple European Tour title holders – Shubhankar Sharma who finished tied-28th with his scores of 71-68-75-71 (+1, 285) and SSP Chawrasia who failed to make the cut with his scores of 70-75 in Doha.