Bhullar finishes 11th, secures 2009 Asian Tour card

December 14th, 2008 - 9:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Siem Reap (Cambodia), Dec 14 (IANS) Gaganjeet Bhullar shot the round of his life and brought home an eight-under 64 that not only placed him as the best Indian in the 11th place at the $300,000 Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open, but also earned him the precious Asian Tour card for 2009.Bhullar, who has been hanging around the cut-off place of 65th on the Money List, moved up from 67th to 65th and became the last player to earn a card for 2009.

Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee made it two straight wins in a row when he claimed the title and then immediately dedicated these victories to his newborn son.

Thongchai, who welcomed the arrival of his second child just nine days ago, produced another superb round of six-under-par 66 for a 24-under-par 264 total to end his Cambodian campaign six shots ahead of closest rival, Lam Chih Bing of Singapore, who shot 65.

Gurbaaz Mann shot a final round 69 to finish tied 14th at 10-under 278, while Harmeet Kahlon (67) had his best finish of the season in tied 28th at six-under 282 and Anirban Lahiri (72) was tied 30th at five-under 283. Himmat Rai (69) was tied 34th at four-under 284.

With the battle to finish in the top-65 of the Asian Tour Order of Merit also taking centre stage this week, Bhullar was a visibly relieved and happy man when he finished in tied-11th, to also take the prized 65th place on the ranking.

After Australia’s Neven Basic missed the weekend cut, it was down to the wire between Bhullar and Australia’s Adam Groom who were in 67th and 66th place respectively.

Trailing three shots behind Groom at the start of the day, Bhullar knew that he had to to overtake Groom and avoid going back to qualifying school again next month.

“Before coming over, I was really very tense. There was so much mental pressure, especially having missed the cut in Vietnam last week. I did a lot of yoga and that has helped me a lot,” said Bhullar, who went on to produce one of his best performances by carding the day’s best score of 64.

“The motivation of making into the top-65 really kept me alive and I am just so happy,” added the Indian, who has now retained his full playing rights for the 2009 Asian Tour season.

Bhullar will be heading to Bangkok next week where an elite field of the top 65 players from the Asian Tour Order of Merit will battle it out for the $750,000 tournament that will bring the year to a thrilling conclusion on the Asian Tour.

Seven days earlier in Ho Chi Minh city, Thongchai ended his two-year title drought with a win at the Hana Bank Vietnam Masters.

“Birth of my son has been lucky for me. It was a sign of good things to come, starting with my win in Vietnam last week,” said Thongchai.

Starting the day five shots clear of Kang who was in tied-second place then, Thongchai started off nervously with an opening bogey but quickly made up for that with three birdies on the third, fourth and ninth holes to reach the turn in 34.

With three successive birdies on the 10th, 11th and 12th straight after the turn and two more on the 14th and 16th, the crowd that had gathered at the Phokeethra Country for this full-field Asian Tour event, were soon beginning to ask how many shots the Thai was going to win the tournament by.

Lam produced his best finish of his career so far, when he signed off with a 65 for a 270 total to take second place ahead of Thailand’s Chawalit Plaphol who was two shots back on 272.

Victory was worth $47,550 and it also meant that Thongchai has now matched his fellow compatriot, Thaworn Wiratchant’s Asian Tour record of 10 victories.

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