Gaganjeet Bhullar Awaits Czech Challenge

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BREAK BEFORE THE NEXT TOURNAMENT
31-year-old Arjuna awardee Gaganjeet Bhullar currently plays on the European Tour, courtesy of his win at the $1,100,000 Fiji International last August. The Indian front-runner hopes to represent the nation at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and is having an exceptional season.
We at Golf Digest India had the chance to catch up with the golf star and his coach Noah Montgomery for a glimpse into not just his remarkable state of play, but also his focused state of mind!

Currently, on a four-week break from his tight schedule on tour, Bhullar is at his home in Sacramento, where he moved three years ago. He says, “I travel to the States frequently, in order to receive coaching from Noah Montgomery, who teaches out of The Ridge Golf Club in Auburn, California.” Montgomery has been crucial in developing Bhullar’s game for over four years — with his eye for details, his commitment to producing results, and his dedicated feedback.

During the break, Bhullar plans to catch up with his friends in Sacramento. He is also looking forward to spending 9 days in Tahoe and Vegas with his wife Naureen
Sandhu. Discussing his daily routine, he says that morning workouts in the gym and healthy nutrition habits are helping him prepare for upcoming competitions. An off-season day for him is practising 6-8 hours a day, playing 9-18 holes, and hitting a total of 400-800 golf balls per day.
Bhullar says his approach to the game remains the same regardless of whether it’s Asian or the European Tour. The only differences he identifies are, “the sizes of the tours, weather conditions, and courses. However, these are all uncontrollable variables; therefore the event I am playing in is irrelevant because I show up every day to play my best and shoot the lowest score I can for that day. In professional golf, it is easy to lose sight of this.”

Talking about his goal and whether he sees himself playing on the PGA TOUR soon, Bhullar said, “My goals have, and will always be to continue to prepare and put in the hard work that it takes to get to Majors, and to try to win in the current tour that I am playing. My end goal is to always play at the highest possible level.”

THE BMW M8

Prior to this, Bhullar made a stunning hole-in-one on the second day of Germany’s BMW International, winning a BMW M8 worth €1,94,000 at Golfclub Munchen Eichenreid’s par-3 17th at 204-yards.“I’ve had few hole-in-ones before and never got anything. It was lovely to win the best car available for this year’s hole-in-one. Plus it was one of my goals this year to achieve it,” said Bhullar of his spectacular achievement.

The €2,000,000 event was won by Italian Andrea Pavan in a playoff against Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick. Bhullar finished T-62 with his rounds of 69, 71, 75, and 74.

Following his stint in Germany, Bhullar landed in Spain for the €3,000,000 Andalucia Masters hosted by Sergio Garcia (June 27-30) at Real Club Valderrama, Sotogrande,
Spain. Here, he finished T-13 with impressive rounds of 68, 71, 72, 72 for a total score of 1-under 283, nine strokes behind winner Christiaan Bezuidenhout. His T-13 finish earned him 2.52 OWGR points and pushed his world ranking to 179 from 183.
So far, he has made 13 cuts out of 17 appearances on the European Tour in 2019.

Bhullar said,” I absolutely loved each and every hole of Valderrama, it’s such a great layout tee to green, I definitely feel my game was spot on that week.”

WHAT NEXT?

Now Gaganjeet Bhullar waits for the €1,000,000 D+D Real Czech Masters, August 15-18, the next event scheduled on the European Tour at Albatross Golf Resort, Prague.

Bhullar is currently ranked 86th on the Race to Dubai Rankings, with 428.1 points, a point table, determining the tour membership of a player for the following season, a system equivalent to FedEx Cup Rankings.

He needs to finish inside the Top-100 to earn an extension to his current tour membership, valid until November 2019.

RACE TO DUBAI RANKINGS

The Race to Dubai points system has replaced the Order of Merit in determining how players earn their European Tour cards, with the top 100 (was 110 in 2016) players earning spots for the next season at the end of the Portugal Masters (October 24-27).

As per the new system each tournament will be classified into
one of nine categories called bands. Each band is determined by prize fund and prestige and follows one universal breakdown, awarding a standardised percentage of the points available to each position on the leaderboard. For example – 50th at every 2019 Race to Dubai event is worth the same 0.48 per cent of available points, therefore:

  • Band 1 = 9.6 points
  • Band 2 = 13.2 points
  • Band 3 = 16.8 points
  • Band 4 = 20.4 points
  • Band 5 = 24 points
  • Band 6 = 26.4 points
  • Rolex Series events = 33.6 points – 38.4 points (based on prize fund)
  • World Golf Championships (WGC) = 43.2 points
  • Major Championships = 48 points

Then the regular season concludes with the WGC-HSBC Champions, which used to be a part of the Final Series when it was four events.
However, the nature of the field makeup compelled the European Tour to exclude it starting in 2016.
Now, the Final Series is actually part of the Rolex Series, a broader, seasonlong
list of events with purses of $7 million or more.

The three-event Final Series now begins with 78 players (the top 70 in the Race to Dubai standings automatically qualify) in the no-cut Turkish Airlines Open. Then, 72 players (the top 64 in the Race to Dubai standings automatically qualify) get into the Nedbank Golf Challenge, which is now part of the Final Series and has its largest-ever field. Then the top 60 players in the standings move on to the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai to end the season. At the end of the season, the top 10 players in the final Race to Dubai standings earn a portion of the $5 million bonus pool.

Find out more in our August issue.

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