India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar does not want to let his biggest fans — his parents — down when he attempts to build on a liking for the Royal Melbourne Golf Club at the World Cup of Golf, which starts in Melbourne on Thursday.
Together with close friend Anirban Lahiri, Bhullar will represent India for the first time at the $8 million event at the iconic course where he enjoyed a top-10 finish at last week’s Australian Masters.
“I’ve got family who came down from Brisbane last week and my parents are here as well from India this week. They do travel once in a while to watch me play and it’ll be good to play well in front of them at such an important event,” said Bhullar, who is a four-time Asian Tour champion.
“I played really good here last week. I was feeling high on confidence and I’m sure that confidence will help me. I just want to focus on the next four days. The sky is the limit. This is my first World Cup and I’m really excited,” he said.
“We went for qualifying a few years ago and just missed it. It’s a great sense of achievement for team India. Anirban and I have grown up together in the amateur ranks and we represented India in quite a few international events, so it’s good to be here together.”
Lahiri didn’t enjoy a good outing at the par-71 Royal Melbourne last week, missing the cut after failing to come to grips with the quick greens.
“It’s probably the quickest greens that I’ve ever played on. The biggest challenge would be around the greens, getting into the right spots. You could be five or 10 feet away and have no chance of making a two-putt unless it goes in,” said Lahiri, who is a three-time winner on the Asian Tour.
Like Bhullar, Lahiri is also making his debut in the tournament which will offer $7 million in the individual category and $1 million for nations which consist of two players.
Lahiri was delighted to line up alongside many of the game’s top players in the elite field who include an in-form Adam Scott of Australia, Graeme McDowell of Ireland, Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn, Italian Matteo Manassero, Korea’s K.J. Choi, Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand and American Matt Kuchar.
“I think Royal Melbourne is a very unique golf course, not one of the long courses in the world but it’s a mix between a parkland course and a links course, especially the bunkering. It’s very windy and challenging.”
“Hopefully, I can get into a good start this week. Gaganjeet had a great last week with a top-10. He’s obviously got a hang of the course and we’re looking forward to combining our scores well,” said Lahiri.