Macau, October 11: In-form Indian Gaganjeet Bhullar rode on
an eagle’s wings to shoot a sizzling eight-under-par 63 for a two-shot lead
after the first round of the US$750,000 Venetian Macau Open on
The talented Bhullar was man of the hour at the challenging
Macau Golf and Country Club with Thailand’s Prom Meesawat and Scott Hend of
Australia leading the chasing pack with matching 65s.
Three-time Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand
produced a bogey-free 66 for a share of fourth place with Ireland’s Niall
Turner, Australian Kieran Pratt and Bangladeshi Siddikur, who sank a hole-in-one
on the par three sixth hole in the popular tournament which is title sponsored
for the first time by Venetian Macau-Resort-Hotel.
Welshman Ian Woosnam, a former Masters Tournament champion,
launched his campaign with a solid 68, one better than playing partner and
two-time Macau Open winner Zhang Lian-wei of China.
In his last five starts on the Asian Tour, Bhullar has won
once and finished second and ninth. An opening bogey didn’t matter for the
24-year-old Indian whose superb ball-striking yielded an eagle from 35 feet on
the second hole and seven other birdies.
“When you know mentally that you’re striking the ball good,
it’ll be a matter of putting and if you putt well, you will score. Today was one
of those Super Sunday putting,” said a delighted Bhullar, who is a three-time
“I canned that putt (on two). It changed the whole game plan.
I made a lot of close birdies but holed a lot of long putts. Holed two from 40
feet. That changed the score.”
Bhullar holds Macau close to his heart as he finished second
here three years ago. With his good form, the Indian believes he can contend
again come Sunday. “This course is one of my favourite courses in Asia. It will
be lovely to have a victory under my belt on this course,” he
“In the off season, I’ve worked really hard. I knew that the
game is there. It was just a matter of patience. Putting was one thing. I am
streaky with the putting, very inconsistent. But I think that has been sorted
out. I changed my posture a bit and it’s been helping me this
The burly Prom, nicknamed the Big Dolphin due to his physique
and the fact that he hails from a coastal town, made five birdies on his outward
nine before settling for a 65. He said his fitness regime has given him the edge
during a hectic run of year-end events.
“I started on the tough nine (back nine) and birdied the
10th which was a good start. I made a long putt and it gave me
confidence. The pins were tough,” he said.
“During the (mid-season) break, I got myself ready for the
rest of the year. I went to the gym as I knew I had to play six or seven weeks
in a row. This is my fourth week and I’m still very fit. I think it’s the
fittest I’ve been.”
Big-hitting Hend stayed patient at the demanding Macau
layout, which rewards precision play. He used his driver only on four occasions
as he picked up eight birdies, including on all the par fives.
“You have to manage the golf course or the course will manage
you,” said Hend, who won the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic earlier this
He finished top-10 last week in the CJ Invitational Hosted by
KJ Choi to qualify for the cash-rich CIMB Classic in Malaysia later this month
and with the top-eight players on the Order of Merit qualifying for the
lucrative HSBC Champions in China after this week, Hend, currently on the
bubble, is determined to get into the Champions.
“If I don’t play well this week, I won’t get in it.
That’s the key. I’ve put in the hard work. Like someone famous said, the harder
you work, the luckier you’ll get. I’m also starting to recover from my operation
in July. I’m getting stronger,” said Hend, who underwent surgery for a thyroid
The towering Turner was also impressive, shooting five
birdies in his opening seven holes which would have impressed his girlfriend who
is watching him play for the first time. “The start was amazing … I made
a lot of birdies which is fun. My ball striking has been very good. If I putt
very well, I’ll do alright,” said Turner.
Title holder Chan Yih-shin began his defence with a
Scores after round 1 of the Venetian Macau Open 2012 being
played at the par 71, 6,606 Yards Macau GCC course (a- denotes
63 - Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND).
65 - Prom MEESAWAT (THA), Scott HEND (AUS).
66 - Niall TURNER (IRL), Kieran PRATT (AUS), Thongchai JAIDEE
(THA), SIDDIKUR (BAN).
67 - Jonathan MOORE (USA), S. Siva CHANDHRAN (MAS), Berry
HENSON (USA), Tim STEWART (AUS), Thitiphun CHUAYPRAKONG (THA), Jason KNUTZON
(USA), LEE Sung (KOR).
68 - Sam CYR (USA), Adam BLYTH (AUS), Kwanchai TANNIN (THA),
Adilson DA SILVA (BRA), Anirban LAHIRI (IND), Antonio LASCUNA (PHI), Jarmo
SANDELIN (SWE), Angelo QUE (PHI), Ian WOOSNAM (WAL), Varan ISRABHAKDI
About The Venetian® Macao-Resort-Hotel
Founded in 2007, The Venetian® Macao-Resort-Hotel is Macao's
first integrated resort featuring stunning replicas of the famous canals and
architectural icons of Venice, Italy. The Venetian Macao features 3,000 suites,
1.2 million square feet (111,000 square metres) of convention and meeting
facilities as well as a 15,000-seat CotaiArena designed for world-class sports
events and electrifying entertainment. The Venetian Macao is also home to the
unique, 1,800-seat luxury Venetian Theatre, hosting the best in international
and Chinese entertainment; more than 30 renowned restaurants; MALO Clinic Health
& Wellness; the incredibly fun Qube indoor playground and more than 300
retailers at Shoppes Grand Canal. Outdoor recreation areas include swimming
pools and cabanas and a mini-golf course.
About the Asian
As the official sanctioning body
for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf
across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a
commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership
of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian
professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at
the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official
World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Abacus (Official Apparel Partner),
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Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and
Resorts) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala
Lumpur and Singapore.