Jakarta, November 16: Gaganjeet Bhullar, who has won four of his 10 Asian Tour titles in Indonesia, put himself ahead once again at the US$1.5 million BNI Indonesian Masters presented by TNE, the final Intternational Series event for 2023. Bhullar, the most successful Indian in Asian Tour history, shot a bogey-free eight-under-par 63 in the first-round at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club. He leads by one over countryman Honey Baisoya, Phachara Khongwatmai from Thailand and American Paul Peterson all in with 65s.
Bhullar’s previous wins in Indonesia came in Indonesia President Invitational (2009) and Indonesia Open (2013, 2016 and 2022). He is now seeking an unprecedented fifth win in Indonesia.
Starting with a birdie on the tenth, Bhullar added two more on the 17th and the 18th hole to turn in 3-under. He added five more on his second nine, the front side of the course on the third, fourth, sixth, eighth and ninth for a sizzling 63.
The 35-year-old has a phenomenal record in Indonesia, said, “The whole year I have been feeling strong mentally and physically. Thought I have been playing well but not really delivering. This is golf. I am sure my subconscious mind will figure it out.”
An adjustment to his putting helped to trigger today’s windfall of birdies.
He said: “I figured out something with my stroke on the first few holes and kept on repeating the same action. In the end the result was eight under par. It was more to do with the way I was looking at the lines. I just changed the way I was visualising the putt. Nothing changed in my stroke, just the ability to change reading the lines from a different point of view.”
Baisoya, who is currently 77th on the Merit List, and looking to get into Top-65 to ensure playing rights for 2024, brought home a round of 65 with seven birdies and one bogey.
Peterson had six birdies and no bogeys, while Phachara had four birdies and an eagle two.
Five Indians, Karandeep Kochhar, SSP Chawrasia, Veer Ahlawat, Rashid Khan and Yashas Chandra carded 2-under 69 each to be Tied-30th on a low-scoring opening day.
Ajeetesh Sandhu (70) was T-51 while S Chikkarangappa (71) was T-69. Things did not go well for Anirban Lahiri, who after 2-over 73 was T-94 and Shiv Kapur, still struggling with an injury, shot 6-over 77.
American Patrick Reed, Canada’s Richard T. Lee, Australians Wade Ormsby and Travis Smyth, and Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond and Gunn Charoenkul are next best placed with rounds of 66 each.
Play was stopped for the day at 5.05pm local time due to inclement weather. Eighteen players, none of whom are in the running, will return to complete their rounds tomorrow morning.