August 05, 2018
India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar edged out Anthony Quayle to win the 2018 Fiji International at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course today.
The last men standing combined for an astounding 11 birdies and three eagles in the final round, Bhullar producing his best golf of the week - a 6-under 66 - to secure a ninth Asian Tour title and first on the European Tour.
His 14-under total proved to be one shot too many for Queenslander Quayle, the 23-year-old’s astonishing 9-under 63 enough for a new course record but not the Sunday silverware.
The par-5 17th has been Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course’s most vulnerable hole this week and it was the scene of the best entertainment late in the day with Quayle and Bhullar draining back-to-back eagles to set up thrilling final round finish.
Quayle snatched the lead at 13-under par - capping off an unconscious stretch of nine gained strokes in 13-holes - with a brilliant three at the par-5.
But Bhullar responded right away- the 30-year-old snatching back the lead he held overnight with a 40-yard chip-in from in front of the green just moments after the Australian hit the clubhouse.
That saw the World Number 163 leapfrog Quayle and regain the lead, a par up the last ensuring a one-stroke victory and a fourth Asian Tour title in three seasons.
“This is the first time I'm here in Fiji and I've enjoyed every bit of it, great hospitality, great people. I think this week was something really special and I could definitely feel it, a victory coming my way. Lately I've been playing really well, been giving myself a lot of good finishes and I think the momentum was getting ready to win like this,” Bhullar told PGA Australia media.
“You know, honestly, it could have been anybody's tournament. Ernie was right up there, Anthony played really, really well. 9 under on this golf course in this condition, that is something really good. As I said, Ben Campbell was right up there.”
“I think it was just maybe golfing gods were on my side this week and my back nine was really, really strong. I played the last few months; I was struggling on my Sunday back nine. But I'm really proud of myself that this was actually to prove it to myself and I'm glad I did it.”
He said the amazing support he received from golf enthusiasts in Fiji somewhat boosted his morale and confidence.
“Ever since I landed here, I think I mentioned this in my interview after day two and day three, I've been turning my neck all around the place. Everybody Bhullar, Bhullar. I think it's a great feeling."
"Special thanks to all the fans, they all supported me this week. There was a big group of Indian families following me, especially on the back nine. And the roar on the 17th really charged me up. Once again, thanks to all the people, everybody who supported me this week.”
“This is my ninth Asian Tour win and first on the European Tour. I think every win is special and I do have a feeling that after this, a lot of doors for me will open. I know I have said this before after winning a lot of Asian Tour events, but I think this is something really special.”
“I think I have to sit down and work on my new schedule for next week. Definitely, you know, this week will definitely be (inaudible) for me,” he added.
Bhullar collected AU$197,913.50 after winning the championship.
The ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia now moves to the Northern Territory for the MMC Northern Territory PGA Championship at Palmerston Golf Course from 16-19 August.
By Reginald Chandar