Gaganjeet Bhullar aims high at Macau Open

Macau: Gaganjeet Bhullar, who has already won an event this season and has set his eyes on a top finish in the Order of Merit at the end of the year, has been paired with the defending champion Chan Yih-shin for the first two rounds of the Venetian Macau Open, commencing here from Thursday.

The third player in the marquee group with the highest ranked Indian on the Asian Tour will be Barry Henson of the Philippines.

Most of the Indians in the fray have been given high-profile draws.

Anirban Lahiri plays with Mardan Mamat and Chinnarat Phadungsil, while SSP Chowrasia goes out with Lam chih Bing and Scott Barr. Shiv Kapur will play the first two days with Scott Hend and Chapchai Nirat.

The other Indians in the field are Himmat Rai, who has been drawn with Pariya Junhasavasdikul and Ajeetesh Sandhu will also tee off at the Macau Golf and Country Club here.

The Indians are also getting ready for their own Hero Indian Open next week to be held in Bangalore and most of them will also be there for the National Open.

"I have been playing well and it is just question of getting my rhythm. I am feeling good and I have had some good results, too," said Bhullar.

Anirban, recalling his first appearance here, said, "My first year on Tour in 2008, I played with David Gleeson in the leader group in the third day. I`ve got good and positive memories of playing here. It`s a layout that is quite challenging but it suits my eye. I love coming back here. It`s a lot of judgement and how you gauge the winds.

"It`s a tricky golf course. I had a great rest last week. I caught up with my coach. I wasn`t very happy with the way I was hitting it. It seems to be moving in the right direction. I was happy with my decision to not play last week and just worked on my game.

"I`m working on getting some consistency back into the game. I`m getting my good rounds but not following it up through four rounds. My focus is on scoring and finding more fairways and greens."

Thongchai Jaidee plans to add the Macau Open to his impressive collection of Asian Tour victories when he tees up on Thursday. The three-time Asian Tour number one, a 13-time winner across the region, headlines a stellar field.

Former Masters Tournament champion Ian Woosnam, two-time Macau Open winner Zhang Lian-wei of China, title holder Chan Yih-shin of Chinese Taipei and 14 of the top-20 players on the Order of Merit led currently by Adam Fraser of Australia will feature in this week`s showpiece.

All eyes will be on Thongchai who made his last appearance in Macau some 11 years ago when he finished tied fourth. He has enjoyed an impressive season in 2012 so far, winning a first title on European soil in Wales in June and finishing tied 15th in Scotland last week.

A series of niggling injuries have kept him from a full playing schedule this season but the Thai star said the forced break has given him the added impetus to shoot and match countryman Thaworn Wiratchant`s record 14 career titles.

Welshman Woosnam, the 1991 Masters Tournament champion, believes he can compete against the stars of the Asian Tour despite his focus now on the European Seniors Tour.

Title holder Chan is hoping to ride on the good vibes from last year`s victory, which was his second triumph on the Asian Tour. The 37-year-old has endured a luckless season so far with numerous missed cuts but a third place outing at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters two weeks ago has restored his confidence.

Zhang has never missed a cut in the Venetian Macau Open since the event`s inauguration in 1998. He won in 2001 and 2002 and posted six other top-10s. The 47-year-old, a five-time winner on the Asian Tour, will play with Woosnam and fellow veteran Frankie Minoza of the Philippines in the opening two rounds.