Bhullar begins campaign at CIMB Classic

Kuala Lumpur: India`s rising star Gaganjeet Bhullar will have his sights set on the Asian Tour Order of Merit crown when he competes at the lucrative USD 7 million CIMB Classic which starts here from Wednesday.

Bhullar, ranked third on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, trails current Merit leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand by more than USD 400,000 but he hopes to narrow the gap with a solid result at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.

"Kiradech is pretty far ahead of all of us. But every penny counts on Tour. The winner`s check is around USD 1 million. And if you win this thing, apart from winning the Order of Merit, there are other perks to enjoy. Definitely I`m going to keep my head stable to be in contention on Sunday," said the four-time Asian Tour winner.

Bhullar, highly regarded as one of the most exciting players in Asia, will have Spanish stalwart Sergio Garcia and flamboyant Rickie Fowler of the United States for company in the opening two rounds.

He is targeting another top finish this week after ending his campaign last season as the best placed Asian player in tied 10th position.

"I`ve got a good pairing on Thursday and Friday, I`ve been paired up with Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler. So obviously I think it`s going to be fun and interesting first two days.

"I`ve always got good memories of playing with some of the top players in the world. So goals are definitely to be in the top. This is definitely one of my favourite golf courses on the Asian Tour. I`ve played well here, and I just want to try to give my hundred percent this week," said Bhullar.

Anirban Lahiri, a three-time Asian Tour winner, hopes to carry his fine form into the CIMB Classic after finishing second and one-shot ahead of Ernie Els of South Africa at the Venetian Macau Open on Sunday.

"It`s always good to come into a big event with some confidence behind you. When you play a couple of good tournaments with low rounds, it helps you to believe in yourself and do even better," said Lahiri, who finished in tied 26th last year.

Lahiri, ranked seventh on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, is gearing for a big week as the winner will receive playing exemptions on the Asian Tour and PGA TOUR and earn a spot at the 2014 Masters Tournament.

"Personally, it`s obviously a great opportunity for all of us. The way I look at it is you get a good performance in right now, and can you open up a lot of doors. You can open up like America, for instance, if you play well enough, maybe get some kind of status, some conditional status if anything else, even if you don`t win," he said.

"Even otherwise it`s a very important week if you want to make an impact on the Asian Tour Order of Merit. There are a lot of bonuses there if you win Order of Merit or finish top three. So all of us here are trying to make a big impact this week," added Lahiri.