Bhullar eager to be in Rio reckoning

Bhullar eager to be in Rio reckoning

Once tipped as the future of Indian golf along with Anirban Lahiri, Gaganjeet Bhullar’s career has taken an unexpected downward spiral since the start of 2014.

Following his Indonesian Open victory in December 2013 -- his fifth Asian Tour triumph -- Bhullar suffered a dip in form before being kept out of the game following a wrist injury in October. On the road to recovery now, Bhullar, one of the participants in the Louis Philippe Cup at the KGA, spoke to media on his injury, his goals and the current state of Indian golf.

Excerpts...

Just 2-3 years back, you were one of the hottest golfers in the country. What happened now?

I think I’m still the hottest golfer (laughs), that’s what I think mentally. Last year was not up to my expectations. Actually, I got injured in October and was out for a good three months and then it took me a while to get back into shape. It was a left wrist injury -- a ligament tear (Grade 2) which luckily didn’t need surgery. My hand was in a cast for a month and it was just a break from golf for a few months. After that I was striking the ball good but it took me a while to get used the short game because that’s where your wrist comes into play more.

Considering you are on the recovery path, do you intend to play more in India?

Indian Tour was never my goal, not a place I want play for the rest of my career. It’s just that I missed my (European) card last year and didn’t get the medical exemption because I only missed some six tournaments and there were about 3-4 players who missed the entire season because of injury. Because of that I had some free time in India, so I thought I might as well go and play something rather than sitting at home. After this I’m playing in Switzerland next month and from August to December I’m going to play on the Asian Tour.

Do you still consider yourself a strong contender in the Race to Rio Olympics?

Yeah, not just a chance, I'm totally in. Still 14 months to go, and a lot can happen. Golf is a funny game. Anirban is quite safe, but after that there is a big gap in the world rankings. Everyone is working hard to make it.

Players like Rashid Khan and S Chikkarangappa have started to blossom well. Do you think these guys are ready to push you and Lahiri?

I think its too early to say that. I think the level where Jeev Milkha Singh, Jyoti Randhawa and Arjun Atwal were is quite different. I think, today, only Lahiri has reached the level set by them. The way he’s been playing over the last couple of years is superb. He’s the only one closer to them. Then, it’s probably me and Shiv Kapur. These guys are doing really well but before I could say anything, they need to win an Asian Tour title abroad. Rashid has done it and Chikka will do it soon. Khalin has also been living up to his promise. Once they have the Asian Tour tag, we can safely say these guys are ready. They are talented and they are on their way.

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