Gaganjeet Bhullar (Getty Images)
Gaganjeet Bhullar is hoping his attachment to Jaypee Greens Golf Course will give him an advantage when the New Delhi venue hosts the Avantha Masters for the first time from March 14-17.
Challenge Tour champion Bhullar recently signed a three-year deal with the Greg Norman-designed Jaypee Greens GC which will see him act as a brand ambassador for the club for the next three years.
Bhullar has won as an amateur at Jaypee Greens GC but not since joining the professional ranks in 2006, and would dearly love to make his breakthrough on The European Tour at his ‘home’ club.
By his own high standards, Bhullar’s record in the Avantha Masters is moderate; but having recently finished in a tie for eighth place behind his compatriot Shiv Kapur in the Gujarat Kensville Challenge on the Challenge Tour, the 24 year old is confident of enhancing his burgeoning reputation when the fourth edition of the €1.8million event takes place next month.
Bhullar said: “My record in the Avantha Masters could be better, but my health wasn’t great for the last two tournaments, so I’m hoping for much bigger and better things this time. There will be a bit of pressure on me to play well given my attachment to the club, but I put pressure on myself to perform every time I tee up.
“I’ve been playing pretty well lately, so my form is good and my confidence is pretty high. Mentally, I’m feeling very sharp and positive, so hopefully I can get into contention coming down the stretch. I’ve won as an amateur at Jaypee Greens, so to get my first European Tour win there would be a dream come true.”
Jaypee Greens GC’s 7,347 yards, par 72 layout was the longest course in Asia when it opened in 2000, and is still the longest – and the only Greg Norman design – in India.
One of Bhullar’s main strengths is his long, straight hitting from the tee, and the four-time Asian Tour champion is hoping his intimate knowledge of the course will stand him in good stead as he bids to become the second home player – after the 2011 champion SSP Chowrasia – to lift the Avantha Masters trophy.
He said: “Obviously I was delighted when I found out that Jaypee Greens would be hosting the Avantha Masters. We’ve been playing at DLF [Golf and Country Club] for a few years now, so it will make a nice change to move to Jaypee Greens. I’m sure all the European Tour players are going to love playing there.
“It’s a beautiful layout, and it probably favours longer hitters, which plays to my strengths. But the greens can be very tricky to read, so you have to be really on your game to shoot low. Because I know the course well hopefully I’ll have a bit of an advantage, but the quality of the field is so strong I’m sure the other guys will get up to speed very quickly.
“The Avantha Masters has become a really strong tournament on The European Tour. The prize money has been gradually increasing and we’re getting more sponsors on board, and because of that the strength of the field has increased and the crowds have got bigger. So it should be another great week.”
Vidya Basarkod, President (Sales & Marketing) of Jaypee Greens, said: “We are delighted that the 2013 Avantha Masters will be played at our course, and it is a matter of great pride and prestige to host India’s biggest golf event. I’m sure the course will be a real challenge for the players, especially if the wind picks up.
“Gaganjeet has been in good form, and we hope he wins his first European Tour event on our course as he is the brand ambassador for Jaypee Greens. We wish all the players best of luck for the event, and look forward to welcoming them to India.”