Bhullar’s experience enables long awaited win

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The 1.5 crore prize money Tata Steel Tour Championship saw a dramatic final round with the lead swinging around on the last three holes as the seasoned Gaganjeet Bhullar, drew on the experience of his 10 International victories to outlast his rivals.

32-year-old Gaganjeet Bhullar of Kapurthala registered a two-shot victory with a final round 68 at the Tata Steel Tour Championship at Jamshedpur on Sunday.

Bhullar’s 20th professional title came in style with an eagle-birdie climax for a  total of 24-under-264 (69-63-64-68), nearly 30 months after his last title at the Fiji International on the European Tour. 

Bhullar’s final round at the 1.5 crore event saw him posting a chip in eagle on the par-5, 16th  when he was two strokes behind the Bengaluru duo of Khalin Joshi and Chikkarangappa S. On the 17th, Bhullar holed a 20 foot curling birdie putt to take the solo lead at 24-under par. Chikkarangappa ended up with a closing bogey and Khalin a double-bogey to drop back,  resulting in an ultimate two shot victory margin for Bhullar as he calmly parred the 18th.

Gaganjeet took home the winning cheque worth 24,24,750 and jumped over 200 places in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR).

Bhullar said, “This win was all due to my experience of winning so many times in the past. I was able to draw on my mindset during the wins in Fiji , Macau and others – controlling my heartbeat through deep breathing and slowing down. 

On the 18th tee on the final day after going eagle-birdie for a one shot lead, there was a long wait on the tee because Khalin ( Joshi) was getting a ruling up ahead in the 18th fairway. During this time, with  out of bounds on both sides of the fairway and playing into a headwind, I kept visualising the path of a perfect tee shot during the long wait. Also was chatting intermittently with SSP (Chawrasia). We would chat a bit and then I would go back into deep concentration and visualise the tee shot, all the while controlling my breathing and heart rate. I kept telling myself, the tournament is being won right here during the waiting on the tee box. 

When finally, it was my turn to hit – I nailed it perfectly 320 yards down the right edge of the fairway, leaving myself just about 100 yards to the front edge of this 430 yard par 4. 

On the 16th, where I holed my 30 yard chip for an eagle, I thought back to Fiji, where I had holed a similar chip on the 17th on the final day to take a one shot lead. Used the same club, my 54* wedge and got the same result.

I didn’t hit the ball so great all day but just hung in there and stayed focused, recreating the feelings I had when I won in the past. “ 

On Sunday in Jamshedpur,  the leading 27 players out of 53 played their first nine holes at the Golmuri course and second nine holes at Beldih GC. The remaining 26 players played at Beldih first and then Golmuri.

Khalin Joshi (69) finished third at 21-under-267, a stroke behind Chikkarangappa, Kolkata’s Rahil Gangjee, who fired the day’s best score of 67, took tied fourth place at 20-under-268 along with SSP Chawrasia (72). Amardeep Malik (73), the joint third round leader along with Bhullar and Chawrasia, closed the week in sixth place at 19-under-269.

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