Jeev, Bhullar lead strong Indian challenge at Malaysian Open

Updated: Mar 19, 2013, 19:45 PM IST

Kuala Lumpur: Gaganjeet Bhullar, who achieved his career-best world ranking of 85 after his runner-up finish at the Avantha Masters, will be looking to move up further as he forms a part of the strong Asian challenge at the Maybank Malaysian Open starting on Thursday.

Bhullar, a four-time winner on Asian Tour and once on European Challenge Tour, is also looking at good finishes on the co-sanctioned events to ensure full playing rights on the European Tour in 2014. Good results could also see him make the PGA Championships, the season`s last Major, later in the year in August.

Meanwhile former Asian Tour Order of Merit winners Jeev Milkha Singh of India, Thailand`s Thongchai Jaidee and China`s Liang Wen-chong besides the 2012 Order of Merit winner, Thaworn Wiratchant will also be in the field.

Jeev, a two-time Asian Tour Order of Merit number one, cut his professional teeth in Malaysia during his early days and is delighted to return to the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club where he finished tied 11th last season.

"I love coming back to Malaysia. I won a few tournaments in Malaysia when I just turned professional. It gives me some positive vibes and I seem to do well here. I love playing in front of the Malaysian crowd and I`m glad to be back," said Jeev, a six-time Asian Tour champion.

Jeev is ranked 104th in the world but is confident of breaking into the top-50 by the end of the season if he stays healthy. He knows a victory or a solid result this week will push him closer towards his goal.

"I`m playing well and looking forward to a good week. I just need to tidy my game up a bit and try to get the job done. I want to get back into the top-50 in the world and if I can stay injury-free then I know I can do it," said Singh, who finished tied 23rd in last week`s Avantha Masters at home.

He will be a part of a strong Indian contingent which includes Bhullar, who finished second in the Avantha Masters on Sunday, Anirban Lahiri, who won his third Asian Tour title two weeks ago and Himmat Rai, currently ninth on the Merit list. The other Indians in the field are Jyoti Randhawa, Shiv Kapur, SSP Chowrasia, Digvijay Singh and C Muniyappa,

"I think the young Indian guys are playing really well. They are playing well and they are good enough to play on any Tour in the world! It was nice to see Gaganjeet and Himmat playing well last week and Anirban winning two weeks ago!" said Jeev.

China`s Liang is also riding on hot form as he battled into contention at the Avantha Masters before settling for third position courtesy a hole-in-one on the last day.