Jakarta: Gaganjeet Bhullar, who won the first of his four Asian Tour titles in Jakarta, revived those happy memories as he charged into a two-shot lead at the Indonesia Open after shooting an opening seven-under-par 64 here on Thursday.
Bhullar, who won the Indonesia President Invitational four years ago here, is playing in his 10th straight event. He held an edge over the chasing pack after shooting a flawless round highlighted by seven birdies at the USD 750,000 Asian Tour event. Among other Indians, Sujjan Singh (67), whose sole international win has been in Indonesia last year, was tied eighth, while Jyoti Randhawa (69) was 22nd and Abhinav Lohan (70) was 30th.
It was disappointing for Anirban Lahiri (71) at 43rd and Shiv Kapur (72) and SSP Chowrasia (72), who were both tied 59th. Ajeetesh Sandhu and Himmat Rai (73 each), Chiragh Kumar (74) and Rahil Gangjee (75) will need solid second rounds to make the cut. Playing in Indonesia has brought out the best in Bhullar, who missed only one fairway and was equally dominant on the greens where he made 27 putts. Ranked sixth on the Order of Merit, Bhullar burst into the sole lead when he sank five straight birdies from the fourth hole.
"The way I`ve been striking the ball from the first tee, I knew I could go low because my striking was right up there. Once my putts started falling, that`s when I went really low," said the four-time Asian Tour winner.
Bhullar insists that he is prepared to make amends after finishing last among the elite 60-man field at the World Cup of Golf in Australia last week.
"Mentally I know that I always try to win every tournament I play in. I didn`t play bad at all last week. It was just a matter of a few bad bounces. I wasn`t upset with my performance because I was hitting the ball good. It is only a matter of time before my short game improved and it happened today," said Bhullar.
Young guns Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand and Nicholas Fung of Malaysia, who finished tied fifth in the Philippines two weeks ago, continued to shine as they stayed two shots back from Bhullar. Jazz, who celebrated his 18th birthday four days ago, continued his encouraging form and was motivated by the splendid performance by his playing partner Bhullar.
"Playing in the same group as Gaganjeet helped me because he motivated me to play well. My result in Manila has given me a lot of confidence coming into this week," said Jazz, who carded six birdies against one bogey. Jazz and Fung are tied for second alongside Americans Anthony Kang and Berry Henson, Korean Mo Joong-kyung and Malaysia?s Shaaban Hussin at the Pantai Indah Kapuk course at Damai Indah Golf.
Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, a three-time Order of Merit winner, was a further shot back in tied eighth while two-time Major champion Retief Goosen of South Africa struggled to a 72 for tied 59th.
Kang, a three-time Asian Tour winner but not since 2009, stayed in touch with the leader after battling to a round of six birdies and one bogey.