Dongguan: Gaganjeet Bhullar was unable to find his magic touch in the third round and signed off with an even-par 72, that still earned him a top-20 finish at the WGC-HSBC Champions here on Sunday.
He finished in a tie for 18th place and took home USD 75,000, which put alongside his top-10 at CIMB Classic last week, indicated that he is ready for the big league.
His senior teammate Jeev Milkha Singh closed with a 71 to finish tied 46th on 287.
Bhullar confessed that the key difference from winning at the highest level was simply self-belief.
"I think it`s self-belief. It`s the only difference. Today and the past few weeks, I`ve been playing with the PGA Tour players and I`ve been pumping my three woods past their drivers. Obviously, length is not an issue but the mental belief. If I play more and more in these events, one fine day, I`ll wake up with the self belief and win a Major," said Bhullar, who finished nine shots behind winner Ian Poulter.
Poulter claimed a two-shot victory after overcoming an overnight four-shot deficit with a second successive seven-under 65 on Sunday.
The flamboyant Englishman, Europe`s talisman in the memorable Ryder Cup victory last month when he won all four of his matches, picked up his second title in the World Golf Championships, 12th on the European and third in Asia.
He carded eight birdies to overhaul a faltering Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen, the joint third round leaders, before dropping a shot on the penultimate hole for a four-day total of 21-under-par 267.
South African star Ernie Els and the American trio of Phil Mickelson, Jason Dufner and Scott Piercy all shared second place in Asia`s richest tournament and only World Golf Championships event in the region.
Unlike yesterday`s round when Bhullar took only 21 putts, Bhullar struggled to hole anything on the Olazabal course at Mission Hills Golf Club, taking 32 putts.
"Today and yesterday`s round wasn`t that much of a difference. I had some good luck bounces yesterday but today I was pretty flat. I hit 15 greens in regulations and made some good up and downs. It was one of those easy-going rounds, fairway, greens and two putt. It would have been much better if I holed those 15, 20 footer putts," said Bhullar.
"I had so many opportunities from the middle of the fairway on the par fives but it wasn`t enough. I was aiming for 64 but I did not even come close. That`s golf. I`ve got to forget about everything and move on to Singapore. Hopefully I`ll try to do what I did in the third round."
He reckons the lessons of the past two weeks will put him in good stead as he chases more silverware on the Asian Tour after winning twice in the past two months in Macau and Chinese Taipei.
"A lot of things to learn ... Today was a quiet day. These are the things that you can learn to move on to the next level. I have picked up a lot of patience in my game which is the reason why my game has gradually improved," he said.
Poulter, for whom this was his first win of the year, said, "It`s been an amazing five or six weeks with the Ryder Cup and then coming here in good spirits. As well as I`ve played this year, it would have been a disappointment personally to have gone that year without winning, and for me and for how I played this year, it`s obviously a great and fantastic feeling especially after the Ryder Cup to get my hands back on a great trophy like this.
"I knew that if I stayed patient I`d be right there at the end. It was a special day. I knew there was a good round of golf in me out there on that golf course; as we saw yesterday, if you start going low and get a number on the board then you`re going to be hard to beat.
World number four Westwood looked solid on the front nine with four birdies and one double bogey but his bid for a first WGC title in his 41st start unraveled with three bogeys after the turn.
Two-time HSBC Champions winner Mickelson was in the thick of action throughout the day.
Mickelson`s hopes, however, ended when he made bogey on the par three 17th hole after a poor tee shot and chip for an eventual 68.
Els, who was returning to action after an ankle injury, signed off with a 67 to challenge Poulter.
"Good week. I know where I came up short. I came up short yesterday on 15 and 16, and today on 14 a little putt I missed. I was in contention all week, so that was great," said the reigning Open champion.