Gaganjeet Bhullar to lead Indian challenge at Jakarta

PTI| Updated: Nov 27, 2013, 19:16 PM IST

Jakarta: Gaganjeet Bhullar is all set to lead a strong Indian challenge at the USD 750,000 Indonesia Open, which commences here on Thursday.

Bhullar, who has been in the top-five of the Order of Merit for most part of the year, and Anirban Lahiri are coming off two events in Australia.

A 12-week stretch resulted in two Asian Tour victories for Bhullar last year and he hopes to repeat the feat when he plays in his 10th straight event after representing his country at the World Cup of Golf last week.

Shiv Kapur, who has been in fine form, is also in contention.

The other Indians in the field are Jyoti Randhawa, Rahil Gangjee, Ajeetesh Sandhu, Himmat Rai, Sujjan Singh, Chiragh Kumar and Abhinav Lohan.

"Mentally, I`m still young (laughs). Mentally I`m right up there and I can still win tournaments in any given week. I think I just need to put a few things together at a same time and once things start rolling then it will be a really good few weeks," Bhullar said.

"I had about 12 weeks in a row last year and I really enjoyed that run. I always play well when I play few weeks in a row. I`m really looking forward to playing a couple of weeks on a trot. Yeah, it works for me because I feel that I`m in the moment and I really enjoy playing week after week.

"Indonesia is really close to my heart. I always played well here. Good to be in a place where you are mentally and physically comfortable. I`m looking forward to a good week. I`ve played here a few times and I`m looking forward to four solid rounds," he added.

The field also includes Scott Hend, currently ranked second on the Order of Merit. Hend will feature alongside Major champion Retief Goosen of South Africa, Daniel Chopra of Sweden, a two-time winner on the US PGA Tour and reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand.

Thai star Thongchai Jaidee, a three-time Order of Merit winner, will also be in the elite field with Liang Wen-chong of China, who won his third Asian Tour title two weeks ago and an in-form Siddikur of Bangladesh.

Hend took a different approach in his preparations for the Indonesia Open when he took time off from golf to take up a regular job.

The powerful Australian took almost a week`s break from golf when he helped his brother-in-law, who is a qualified electrical engineer in Brisbane, to drill, dig holes and lay cables.

The experience has given Hend, who has won three Asian Tour titles this season, a new sense of motivation to aim for another victory at the Pantai Indah Kapuk course, the venue where he won his first Asian Tour title in 2008.

"I worked with my brother-in-law on his work site. I helped him and didn`t touch a golf club at all until Saturday. When I was done, I was pretty tired! I actually needed a break from golf and it was quite refreshing to experience how people work hard in their daily jobs!" said the 40-year-old Hend.

The 39th edition of Indonesia`s national championship, which has a rich and illustrious history dating back to its first edition in 1974, is the nation`s oldest golf tournament.