Macau : Gaganjeet Bhullar rode out a blip in the middle of the final round to card a solid three-under 68 and clinch the Venetian Macau Open title, his second title in less than a month, here on Sunday.
Bhullar, who had friend and one of India’s leading amateurs, Ashbeer Saini on the bag, finished with a birdie to sign off at 16-under 268, two shots clear of American Jonathan Moore, who had five birdies in his last five holes.
Making it sweeter for India was Shiv Kapur, who carded a four-under 67 to total 10-under and finish sole fifth. Himmat Rai (70) was 38th at one-under 283 and Ajeetesh Sandhu (73) was one-over 285 in 47th place.
Moore (65) finished second, while Thitiphun Chuayprakong (70) of Thailand and Siddikur (66) of Bangladesh were tied third and Kapur (67) was fifth.
Bhullar had four birdies in his first seven holes and seemed to be cruising to another superb win, when he found bogeys on the 10th and 13th holes. But he pulled himself back from that with steady par, a missed birdie putt and finally a solid birdie on 18th to close with a 68.
Even as a pumped-up Moore raced home with five closing birdies to put pressure, Bhullar responded like a true champion and drained a six-foot par putt on 17 to hold on to a two-shot lead into the last hole. He then delivered a grandstand finish with a 12-foot birdie to become the first Indian winner of the Venetian Macau Open.
“This is going to take a long time to sink in. I hit the ball so good. I was just in the perfect zone. More than that, it was self-belief,” said Bhullar, who earned USD 118,875 for his fourth Asian Tour victory.
“This is my first wire-to-wire Asian Tour title. I think it was more that I had to prove to myself that I’m a good front runner. I had to believe in myself. I did it and it was really special,” he added.
“I thought I was going to play relaxed in the last few holes. But Jonathan played really well. He holed a long putt on 17 … I saw that. I had a good tee shot, missed on the left but the first putt, I hit it over the hole. Trust me, it wasn’t an easy putt (coming back). I had to visualize the ball going into the hole a few times and that’s what I did,” Bhullar said.
“I think the putt on 17 was the putt of the tournament. The whole week, I just struck the ball really well. Mentally, I was focused and I was in the zone. I knew I would win it easily,” said Bhullar.
This is Bhullar’s fourth Asian Tour title, following wins in 2009 Indonesia President Invitational, the 2010 Asian Tour International, Thailand and the 2012 Yeangder Tournament Players’ Championship, Chinese Taipei.
He has also won once on European Challenge Tour, the 2011 Gujarat Kensville Challenge.
Bhullar opened the week with a stunning 63 and proceeded to dominate the field with subsequent rounds of 68, 69 and 68 on the next three days.
In four days, he had just seven bogeys against 26 birdies.