Dubai 's Bhullar makes hot start to BNI Indonesian Masters on the Asian Tour

The Dubai Golden Visa Awardee, has the lead at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, ahead of Khongwatmai, Peterson and Baisoya

By Team KT

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Dubai Golden VISA Awardee Gaganjeet Bhullar, leading after day one on the Asian Tour in Indonesia. - Supplied photo
Dubai Golden VISA Awardee Gaganjeet Bhullar, leading after day one on the Asian Tour in Indonesia. - Supplied photo

Published: Fri 17 Nov 2023, 9:16 AM

Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind) struck again on Indonesian soil today, firing a sizzling bogey-free eight under par 63 for the first-round lead in the $1.5 million BNI Indonesian Masters presented by TNE on the Asian Tour.

The Dubai Golden VISA Awardee, has the lead here at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, ahead of second-placed Phachara Khongwatmai from Thailand, American Paul Peterson and Honey Baisoya from India, all in with 65’s.

American Patrick Reed, Canada’s Richard T. Lee, Australians Wade Ormsby and Travis Smyth plus Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, the winner here in 2019, and Gunn Charoenkul are next best placed following 66’s – in the final International Series event of the season.

Bhullar, 35 years-old, is the most successful player from his country on the Asian Tour with 10 victories, but he is winless this year and searching for a solution.

"The whole year I have been feeling strong mentally and physically,’"said the Indian.

"Thought I have been playing well but not really delivering. This is golf. I am sure my subconscious mind will figure it out."

The 35 year-old has a phenomenal record in Indonesia having won on four occasions – three Indonesian Opens and the Indonesian President Invitational – while he has come close many other times.

An adjustment to his putting helped to trigger today’s windfall of birdies.

Starting on hole 10 he made three birdies going out and five on the back, including the last two.

Bhullar told Khaleej Times: "I played well today – hitting 13 fairways and all 18 greens in regulation. I putted really well and I was even striking my irons as I wanted to – it was a good day in the office – as they say."

Phachara came close to winning the Hong Kong Open last week, finishing in third, and despite nursing a bad back, he is in the frame again this week.

He said: "Yesterday, I hurt my back and thought I might have to withdraw. I could not take the club back so had to withdraw from the Pro-Am after one and a half holes.

"I have had this a couple of times, it’s not a huge problem. The physio helped yesterday."

His round reached a crescendo when he holed his second on the par-four fifth, with a seven-iron from just over 200 yards.

This is only the third appearance of the season by Peterson on the Asian Tour as he has been playing on the Korn Ferry Tour, where he retained his playing privileges for 2024.

The 35 year-old lefthander admitted he is happy to back in the region.

"Familiar faces, gotta be the friendliest Tour in the world. It is nice to be back" said Peterson. "There’s no place hotter in the world of course but it’s fun to be out here and see guys you have not seen for a while, and just have a good time."

Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat put together an astonishing run of seven birdies in a row and was on track to match the record of nine – set by Austrian Bernd Wiesberger at the Malaysian Championship in 2017 – before dropping a shot on 17. He did manage to bounce back with a birdie 18 for a 67.

New Zealand’s Ben Campbell, who won the Hong Kong Open on Sunday, and Dubai based Anirban Lahiri from India carded 73’s.

Defending champion Sarit Suwannarut from Thailand returned a 74, as did American Andy Ogletree, who wrapped up The International Series Order of Merit title at the Hong Kong Open last Sunday to secure his place on next year’s LIV Golf League.

Play was stopped for the day at 5.05 pm local time due to inclement weather. Eighteen players, none of who are in the running today, will return to complete their rounds tomorrow morning.

Leading First Round Scores

(7,324 Yards, Par 71)

G. Bhullar (Ind) 63.

P. Petersen (US) 65.

P. Khongwatmai (Thai) 65.

H. Baisoya (Ind) 65.

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