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Bhullar Draws Inspiration from Milkha Singh

Discussion in 'Sports & Fitness' started by spnadmin, Feb 16, 2011.

  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Jun 17, 2004
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    CHANDIGARH: As a child coursing through the sleepy greens of small-town Kapurthala in Punjab, Gaganjeet Bhullar read and re-read the autobiography of Flying Sikh Milkha Singh. That child was so taken in by Milkha's 'gore and guts' story that there was just no looking back.

    Winner of three back-to-back titles on the European Challenge Tour and the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI), Bhullar's rise in Indian golf is another sterling example of India's mofussil backwaters producing outstanding sportspersons.

    "I am very proud of my small town origins. Nobody could ever have imagined 15-20 years back that Kapurthala would produce a golfer who has gone on to play on the European Tour. I feel that in small towns, distances are less, there is more time for yourself. One is very firmly rooted in one's culture and value systems. This shapes the character required to play golf at the highest levels. Golf is growing fast in Punjab cities like Jalandhar, Amritsar and Ludhiana and kids swear by Jeev Milkha Singh," Bhullar told ToI.

    On Saturday, Bhullar registered his third win of 2011 when he beat the field by two strokes at the Rs 30 lakh PGTI Players' Championship at the RCGC, Kolkatta. Bhullar's winnings on the PGTI, Asian Tour and the European Tour -- coupled with subtantial corporate endorsements -- have crossed the 1.5 million dollar mark. The youngest Indian player to win on the Asian Tour, the PGTI or play a Major championship, Bhullar typifies that breed of sturdy Punjab golfers that have bagged a lion's share of Indian international victories.

    "I remember in 2006, Golf Digest magazine published a wisecrack that if you have to be good golfer, you got be a Punjabi. Jeev, Jyoti Randhawa and Arjun Atwal embody the fierce aggression and competitive spirit of the Punjab. That Punjabi pride works for them when the pressure mounts in championships abroad," said Bhullar, who is on the rolls of the elite International Management Group (IMG), that includes the likes of Tiger Woods and Roger Federer on its client list.

    The victory at the Kensville Gujarat Challenge on the European Challenge Tour this January has given Bhullar wider opportunity to play on the mainline PGA European Tour, whose players have nearly sidelined the Americans in the top-10 world rankings. "I have just been notified that I enjoy Category 1 on the Challenge Tour and Category 13 on the PGA European Tour. That will allow me starts in about 14-15 championships on the PGA European Tour, including co-sanctioned events with the Asian Tour and sponsor spots," said Bhullar, who is known for his long-hitting power golf.

    Though hailing from village Kandila in the Batala tehsil of Gurdaspur district, Bhullar grew up at the Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, which has a sprawling golf course. His parents are both international athelets while an uncle is a three-time Asian Golf medallist.

    After a storied amateur career, where he won the silver medal at the Doha Asian Games, Bhullar turned professional in 2006 and has bagged 11 titles to date, including two victories on the Asian Tour. "I had to face very aggressive crowds in Kolkatta at the PGTI Players' Championship. The locals were rooting for Rahil Gangjee and SSP Chowrasia. On the back-nine holes on the final day, when Gangjee fired a string of birdies, the crowds turned hysterical and shouted that Bhullar had lost. I held my nerve and parred the final two holes, whereas Gangjee dropped a bogey. Somebody from the crowd told me later that had it been anyone else, Gangjee would have won with so much crowd support," said Bhullar, who leads the PGTI's Order of Merit for the 2011 season with earnings of more than Rs 8 lakh in two championships.

    Bhullar looks up to the Flying Sikh's discipline and hard work that took him to the top from such humble origins. "I want to win an Olympic medal for India and dedicate it to the Flying Sikh," said Bhullar.

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