August 05, 2018: The quest for self discovery can take you to far away shores. Gaganjeet Bhullar is learning just that as he drinks for joy from the Fiji International trophy. The 163rd ranked Indian scored the biggest victory of his career, edging out Anthony Quayle in a sensational final round shootout at the Natadola Bay Golf Course. In the end it took an eagle on the 71st hole to secure a hard fought one shot victory, Bhullar finishing at 14-under 274.
The final round was a bruising battle among marauding men, eager to stamp their authority on the event, bringing their best game out when they needed it the most.
Anthony Quayle shot 63, threatening to run away with glory. The Queenslander made a brilliant run on Sunday, firing six birdies and two eagles. He nearly snatched victory away from the Indian, but Bhullar produced a sensational chip in off the green on the 17th to hold off his opponent.
Ernie Els made a brilliant seven under 65 to move up to 12-under, into a tie for third with Ben Campbell, who shot 66.
Jarryd Felton was solo fifth at ten under, with Poom Saksansin, Andrew Dodt and Jake McLeod tied in sixth at 8-under 280. Matthew Millar and Andrew Martin rounded off the top ten at six under par 282.
Bhullar made four birdies on the front nine – taking strokes off the course at the first, third, fourth and ninth holes. His run was punctuated by a bogey at the par-4 seventh, but his most valuable moment may have come at the tenth hole.
The Indian sank his approach in the sand on the tenth. To make matters worse, Bhullar played it thick in the bunker to merely extricate himself out of the pot.
Staring at the flag from about 40 feet, he was facing the risk of losing ground. But the 30-year-old dug deep to find just what he needed to save par and prevent any damage to his card or confidence. It was a vital moment on Sunday, that could have played a huge role in keeping Bhullar on the track to victory.
Bhullar made a birdie at the 13th to stay in the hunt, before nailing his initials into the trophy with a spectacular chip in eagle on the par-5 17th hole.
As he stood on the final tee, Bhullar needed to par or better to secure a maiden victory on the European Tour. It has been a long time in the making for a young man with plenty of golf tricks in his bag. Bhullar missed the birdie putt by a whisker, but sank the short putt for par to consummate a memorable Sunday in Fiji.
“I’ve been playing really well,” said Bhullar. “It was just a matter of time and I’m glad it happened on this stage and really happy to be back on the European Tour.
“It was a tough day. It was windy, flags were tough but I played really well. I gave myself many, many opportunities today.”
The win in Fiji is the first for Bhullar on the European Tour and also his ninth on the Asian Tour. The result secures him a full card to play in Europe through 2019.