Bhullar recovers to clinch title

Mumbai: Gaganjeet Bhullar claimed his eighth career title with a spectacular come-from-behind display and a final round score of four under 66 to lift the PGTI Players Championship at the Bombay Presidency Golf Club here on Friday.

Bhullar, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on April 27, totalled seven under 273 to finish one stroke ahead of his nearest rivals Shamim Khan of Delhi and Bangladesh’s Mohd. Siddikur Rahman who finished tied second.

The Kapurthala-born youngster, who had almost slipped out of contention after dropping two triple bogeys on the front nine in the third round yesterday, performed a remarkable turn-around over the last 27 holes.

Bhullar had first salvaged his third round with a six under score on the back nine and then continued in the same vein today to take home the trophy and the top prize in the Rs 30-lakh prize money tournament.

The youngster said it was a major confidence-boost ahead of a lengthy international season.

“This win comes as a huge boost for me ahead of a long international season,” he said.

“This is a special win considering the fact that I was almost out of the race after having made two triple bogeys in round three. But I hit it really well today and did not lose my focus till the very end,” he said.

“The birdie on the 16th was the highlight of my round. On the 16th, I hit a fantastic six iron shot from 200 yards that landed within 25 feet of the pin. I then converted the birdie putt,” Bhullar said after his sixth win on the tour and second professional title this year.

Bhullar (66, 71, 70, 66) began the final round with a flurry of birdies on the first, fourth and fifth before dropping a stroke for the first time during the day on the sixth. Two more birdies on the ninth and 14th brought him within one stroke of the leader Shamim Khan.

After suffering a big setback when he double bogeyed the 15th, he stormed back with an excellent birdie on the 16th which boosted him into the joint lead along with Shamim who, on his part, dropped a second consecutive bogey on the 16th.

Shamim’s hopes of a sixth career title dimmed when he made three bogeys in a row on the 17th and handed Bhullar a one-stroke lead and the latter then all but sealed the title with a birdie on the 18th.

Thereafter, Shamim needed an eagle on the last hole to take the match to a playoff but he could only manage a birdie and thus finished in tied second.

Bangla pro Siddikur Rahman (66, 71, 69, 68) joined Shamim in tied second at six under 274. Rahman’s final round featured six birdies and four bogeys.

Australia’s Anthony Choat finished fourth at three under 277 while Digvijay Singh and Harmeet Kahlon were a further stroke behind and shared the fifth spot.

Manav Jaini’s five under 65 was the best round of the day and helped the Delhi golfer finish in tied seventh along with Anirban Lahiri at one under 279, while Gaurav Ghei’s one over 281 total placed him ninth.