Bhullar hopes to cash in at Thailand

Chonburi (Thailand), Nov 30 (IANS) Gaganjeet Bhullar, who hit the million-dollar mark in career earnings on the Asian Tour this year, hopes to ignite a late charge for the prestigious Order of Merit crown by winning the Thailand Golf Championship next week.

The talented Indian is currently fourth on the Order of Merit with earnings of $422,925, courtesy two victories but is some $220,000 behind leader Marcus Fraser of Australia. He hopes to narrow the lead at next week's $1 million Thailand Golf Championship, which is the penultimate Asian Tour event of the season.

Bhullar will be joined by countryman Anirban Lahiri, a two-time Asian Tour winner, local Thongchai Jaidee, a three-time Order of Merit champion, Jbe Kruger of South Africa, third on the Merit list, Thailand's Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand, who is second on the rankings, and reigning Asian Tour No.1 Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines at the immaculate Amata Spring Country Club from Dec 6-9.

Bhullar's fighting spirit will be put the test against defending champion Lee Westwood of England, ranked sixth in the world, former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, 2011 Masters Tournament winner Charl Schwartzel and reigning Masters champion Bubba Watson of the United States.

"I'm pleased with how my season has turned out. It has definitely given me lots of confidence knowing that I can play my best golf especially against some of the best players in the world," said Bhullar.

"We'll get to play against many of them at the Thailand Golf Championship and I guess it will come down to my fighting spirit again, especially when I put myself into contention."

The young Indian is currently the second youngest player at the age of 24, behind Korea's Noh Seung-yul to be ranked inside the top-40 on the Asian Tour's career earnings with a haul of $1,081,257.

It is no surprise that Thongchai leads the all-time money list with earnings of over $4.5 million, thanks largely to 13 Asian Tour victories.

Lahiri reckons he is in top form and believes he can contend at the Thailand Golf Championship and boost his Order of Merit rankings where he currently sits in 10th place.

"I'm playing some of my best golf at the moment and I'm feeling really confident with my game. I'm happy with it. I'm in a good position on the Order of Merit and it'll be interesting to see how it goes from here," said Lahiri, a two-time Asian Tour winner.

"Right now, I'm just happy that I'm in a good position and I want to consolidate that position. Hopefully I can keep playing solid. Thailand is always a beautiful country to visit and to go back and play at the Thailand Golf Championship is nice."