Crans Montana (Switzerland): Indian golfer Gaganjeet Bhullar wants to represent the country at Rio De Janerio when the sport returns to the Olympic Games in 2016 and is planning to play the full schedule on the Asian Tour to rake up major world ranking points.
The 24-year-old, who has won twice on the Asian Tour, and is widely considered as one of the rising talents of the region, plans to play almost every Asian Tour tournament from now till December.
He knows the best route to Rio would be through the Asian Tour which, through all of its events, offer official World ranking points. From next year, the Asian Development Tour, the secondary circuit for emerging stars in the region, will also receive world ranking points, which Bhullar reckons is a huge boost for the game in Asia.
"I need to get my ranking points up," said Bhullar, who is currently ranked 306th in the world.
"I hope to be there in 2016. I will be 28 then, much more mature and hopefully with more confidence. I hope to have more Asian Tour victories under my belt by then. Since golf`s inclusion, the government of India has been very active and putting money into golf and I feel this is one game where we can produce a lot of golfers.
"Winning an Olympic medal, that would top everything. It will be the reward for all the hard work. If I can win a medal, golf will change totally in India," he said.
While preparing for the second half of the season, Bhullar spent hours watching the London Olympics on TV. He had tickets for some events, but cancelled because of personal reasons. But he now dreams of being in Rio in four years time when golf comes into the programme.
Bhullar`s immediate focus is the upcoming Omega European Masters in Switzerland, followed by next week`s Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters in Malaysia and the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship in Chinese Taipei.
"To be honest, I`m very excited for the remainder of the season. I spent some time in America, trying out the U S Open qualifying and doing some practice. The hunger is there to play and win a tournament again. The season is looking packed up and I am really excited about Switzerland, Selangor and Taipei."
Bhullar broke through for his maiden win in Indonesia in 2009 as a 21-year-old and marked himself as a player to watch with a second triumph in Thailand a year later. The big-hitting Indian did not have the best of years in 2011 but has already chalked up four impressive top-10s this season, including a tied second finish at the Panasonic Open India.
"I played two weeks ago in India, and I`m playing good. I`m striking the ball well. I`m going to play in every tournament with the exception of maybe one tournament in the remainder of our season," he said.
"If you look at stats, I`m 14th on the Order of Merit, which is not bad. However, I feel I could have done better in Indonesia (CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters) and the Panasonic event. I was playing good at those tournaments and could have won them.
"It`s (The form) coming back and the more I get into contention, I will gain confidence. Sometime, winning is just a matter of timing. The more I play, the more chances I will have. We play like 30 weeks a year and that creates many opportunities to win. I`ll hit a big one soon," he added.
He is looking forward to a fourth visit to the picturesque Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club this week, which is located in the Swiss Alps before turning his attention back to Asia with a visit to Kota Permai Golf and Country Club in Malaysia.
"It`s a beautiful venue. I played well last year in Crans but did not finish well in the weekend. I enjoy playing there. It`s a small town and everyone stays in town. The weather will be nice," he said.
After Switzerland, Bhullar will make the long trek back for the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters, which will beam the final two rounds live to a global audience for the first time in the event`s history.
"Kota Permai is one of the best courses in Malaysia but we`ll have to prepare for the rain. A lot of patience will be involved.
"I know that Sujjan (Singh) won an ADT event in Indonesia recently and it`s a good stepping stone. Not every player gets straight onto the Asian Tour and the world ranking points for the ADT will be the incentive for the smaller golf nations who do not produce so many Asian Tour players," he said.