Bhullar looks to continue Indian winning run at Kota Permai

Gaganjeet Bhullar / ©Asian Tour

Shah Alam: India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar is hoping to emulate the previous successes of his compatriots at the highly-rated Kota Permai Golf and Country Club by claiming the RM1.2 million (US$400,000) Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters, which begins on Wednesday.

“This is my first time to Kota Permai and to be honest, this is one of the best golfing venues in Malaysia,” enthused the 23-year-old Bhullar. “I’ve heard a lot about this course from my fellow Indian players as we’ve had some success here. Arjun won the Maybank Malaysian Open in 2008 while Jyoti won the Volvo Masters of Asia in 2004. This might be the next ground for another Indian winner.”

The talented Bhullar feels right at home at the par-72 course as it also reminds him of the venue where he captured his maiden Asian Tour victory in Indonesia in 2009.

“It reminds me of the course (Damai Indah Golf, BSD Course) where I won in Indonesia. It’s not long but it’s very challenging around the greens.  I feel the greens will be treacherous. They are not big in size but it is very, very fast. Some of the pins, you can’t miss it on the wrong side. You have to make sure the next putt is uphill. The course is demanding but I’m predicting the scores will be low,” said Bhullar.

After a fast start to the year where he won four out of six tournaments on the domestic Indian circuit, Bhullar’s game has somewhat cooled off. He is keen to strike it hot again on the Malaysian fairways and hopes to reap the rewards of the work he has put into his short game in recent months.

“I’ve been working hard on it and there are some aspects which I’ve improved. I just need to focus on my mental strength and try to get into the zone again,” he said. “I’ve got a few more opportunities in the second half of the season (to win) and hopefully I can do well.”

While Bhullar is hoping to return to top form, South Africa’s James Kamte is simply happy to be returning to competition after a long spell out with injuries. The power-packed Kamte, a graduate from the Ernie Els Foundation, won the Asian Tour International in 2009 but has since endured a tough 18 months.

“I’ve been home trying to recover from my injuries. I broke my knee in late 2009 and had an operation on it last June and then I hurt my right wrist as well. That was why I couldn’t finish last season,” said Kamte, who turns 29 on Wednesday.

“I think my last tournament was in India six months ago. It’s been frustrating. I’ve been watching a lot of golf and I’ve been itching to get back. Finally, it was good to come back out and play again. Today I had a good day, hit the ball well. It was good.”

Kamte is keeping his fingers crossed that his wrist will hold up this week so that he can compete in the remaining events in the second half of the Asian Tour Schedule. “I never thought I wouldn’t come back and play again. Everyone goes through this. I hope to come back slowly. There are good opportunities on the Asian Tour.”

Lin reckons putting could be decisive at Kota Permai as he prepares to bid for a sixth Asian Tour title. “The course is in very good condition and the greens are rolling very fast. My game is shaping up very nicely but I need to improve on my putting,” said the 37-year-old.

“I’ve been going to the gym every day and I’m hitting it much longer. I’m not thinking about winning yet. I just want to focus on the week ahead and see what happens on the last day.” –