It will be a case of ‘cast off and gloves on’ for Gaganjeet Bhullar of India when he defends his title at the BANK BRI Indonesia Open which gets underway on Thursday.

After tearing a ligament in his left wrist in September, Bhullar was in a cast for 21 days and will make a welcome return to the US$750,000 Asian Tour event after being side lined for nearly two months.

Bhullar will be joined by three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington of Ireland, who is playing in Indonesia for the first time in his career, six-time Asian Tour champion Scott Hend of Australia and local favourite George Gandranata at the Damai Indah Golf, Pantai Indah Kapuk course.

“It was a frustrating time sitting at home and doing nothing. I did a lot of physiotherapy and acupressure therapy to recover. Now I can hit my driver and three wood without any restrictions,” said the 26-year-old Bhullar.

The injury has kept him away from playing regularly but he is excited to return to Indonesia, a country where he won his first Asian Tour tournament in 2009.

“The feeling is quite different because I’m one of those guys who love to play in a lot of tournaments. I think the last two years I’ve played close to 30 or 35 tournaments a year. It is quite a challenging time for me but Indonesia is close to my heart. I had a lot of good finishes here I’m looking forward to play some good golf again,” said Bhullar.

Harrington, whose last win was at the 2012 PGA Grand Slam of Golf, has sorted his putting issues but reckons he needs to ‘get his head in the right place’ to contend for the BANK BRI Indonesia Open title.

“The key for me is to get my head in the right place this week. My putting has come around so I have to play more golf now to give myself an opportunity. I’ll be more focussed on my mental game more than anything else this week,” said the 43-year-old Irishman.

Harrington praised the development of golf in the region, saying the young Asian golfers have a bright future ahead.

“One of the most interesting things coming over to the Asian Tour is how it has developed since 1997. When I first came out to Asia, the really good players tend to come from a caddy background with unique golf swings.

“The young Asian players that I see now are coached and they have beautiful golf swings and strike the ball really well. I think if you merge a really good ball striker and someone with a strong and good character, you will have a world champion who will win many Major tournaments,” Harrington explained.

After missing only two cuts in 11 Asian Tour appearances this season, home favourite Gandranata is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Kasiadi, who is the only local player to win the Indonesia Open title in 1989.

“The game of golf in Indonesia is growing and a lot of kids are playing golf at a higher level. Hopefully I can show and be a good example to them this week. I will attack the course according to my plan and skills,” said Gandranata, who won four titles on the local circuit this year.

Big-hitting Hend secured his first Asian Tour title at the Damai Indah Golf, Pantai Indah Kapuk course in 2008 before going on to win five other Asian Tour events. However, a back injury which he sustained last week might scupper his chances of lifting the title.

“I have fond memories on this golf course and I enjoy coming to Indonesia. I have to get over my back injury. There’s a lot of stiff competition this week and obviously Gaganjeet has some fond memories on this golf course as well. Let’s see what happens,” said Hend.



This week’s event: BANK BRI Indonesia Open

Prize Money: US$750,000 (winner’s purse: US$135,000)

Venue: Damai Indah Golf, PIK Course, Jakarta

Starts: From December 4, Thursday till December 7, Sunday.

Top Contenders: David Lipsky (Usa), Anirban Lahiri (Ind), Prom Meesawat (Tha), Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind) – defending champion, Scott Hend (Aus), Padraig Harrington (Irl), Mardan Mamat (Sin).


Fast Facts:

  1. The Indonesia Open will welcome a new title sponsor, BANK BRI, when the prestigious event is staged at the Damai Indah Golf, Pantai Indah Kapuk course, Jakarta from December 4 to 7.

 2. Topping the entry list from the top 200 on the Official World Golf Ranking are a good mix of star players including Asian Tour Order of Merit leader David Lipsky. 

  1. Among those playing in the elite field who are ranked inside the world’s top-200 include Anirban Lahiri, Scott Hend, Prom Meesawat, Prayad Marksaeng, Chapchai Nirat and Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh. 
  1. Recent winner of the Resorts World Manila Masters, Mardan Mamat of Singapore is hoping to claim his second win for the season. 
  1. More than 30 Asian Tour winners will vie for honours at the BANK BRI Indonesia Open. 
  1. Gaganjeet Bhullar of India will return to defend his title which he won with a 16-under-par 268 total. He won by three shots last year. 
  1. Adding excitement and challenge to the field is multiple Major champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland, who is making his debut appearance in Indonesia. 
  1.   Other Asian Tour stars in the US$750,000 event include S.S.P. Chowrasia of India, Steve Lewton of England, Marcus Both of Australia, Kang Sung-hoon of Korea, Masahiro Kawamura of Japan, Lin Wen-tang of Chinese Taipei, Kieran Pratt of Australia and Thai duo Chawalit Plaphol and Arnond Vongvanij. 
  1. Local heroes George Gandranata, William Sjaichudin, Andik Mauludin, Iketut Sugiarta and Rinaldi Adiyandono will give their best to win their National Open. Kasiadi is the only Indonesian to win the event in 1989
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