Gaganjeet Bhullar, one of the most prolific winners on the Asian Tour, will bid to claim his 11th title this week at The 38th Shinhan Donghae Open – a tournament where he has enjoyed success before, in 2016, and which has special meaning to him.
“It was six years ago but it still seems like it was last week,” said the Indian.
“Going back to all my last 10 victories I think the Shinhan Donghae Open was definitely very close to my heart: the reason was I was coming back from a bad patch of two years, including injuries and a lot of adjustments in my golf swing back in the day, so that basically gave me another kick in my career.
“So, looking at all the Shinhan Donghae Open branding this week it brings back all the good memories.”
The Shinhan Donghae Open, is one of Korea’s most prestigious events, and when Bhullar claimed the title, it was played at Bear’s Best Cheongna – the tournament’s home for the past seven years.
However, this week the tournament is being held in Japan for the first time in its history, with Koma Country Club near Osaka playing host.
Added Gaganjeet: “I played a practise round yesterday and I would say the conditions are very favourable for my game; rough is still up, greens are still very pure. I have been playing the past few years in Korea and Japan and the goal is to stick to my routine.”
The 34-year-old from Amritser, in the Punjab, was triumphant in the Mandiri Indonesia Open for a record third time in August, for his first victory on the Asian Tour since his win at the 2018 Fiji International. Having struggled with his form over recent seasons while focusing on Europe and battling with a bad dose of Covid at that start of the year, it was a much welcomed return to the winners’ circle.
“I have been working very hard on my swing, my pre-shot routine, and some mental stuff I have been doing on and off the golf course, and that is the result of my input,” he added.
“Winning in Indonesia also gave me a boost. Every time you go out and play well that boosts your career for the next few years and I feel I am riding high on confidence, focusing one shot at a time. I will give 100 per cent this week.”
He is currently in 11th place on the Order of Merit with earnings of US$248,910 having played 10 events. And with a wealth of big money events to come finishing in top spot is a realistic possibility.
Since first playing on the Asian Tour in 2007 his best Merit list finish was fourth in 2018, while he was fifth in both 2012 and 2013.
He has been paired in the first two rounds with Japan’s Ryosuke Kinoshita and Korean Junggon Hwang.
Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Bio Kim from Korea, and his compatriot Taehoon Ok, who won the International Series Korea two weeks ago, are just two of the big-name players competing this week.
Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong and Sihwan Kim from the United States, the only two players who have won twice this season are also competing, as well as PGA Tour star Siwoo Kim from Korea.
Defending champion Yoseop Seo from Korea is playing, he won last year when the tournament was played solely as a Korean PGA event due to travel restriction caused by COVID-19.
It is the first time the prestigious tournament has been played on the Asian Tour in three years because of the pandemic.
Tri-sanctioned by the Asian, Korean and Japan Tours it boasts prizemoney of KRW 1,400,000,000 (approximately US$1,050,500).