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Bhullar leads Asia's charge at CIMB Classic

Posted on Oct 25, 07:07PM | IANS

India's Gaganjeet Bhullar stood tall amongst other golfers on the PGA Tour in the opening round of the CIMB Classic, shooting a fabulous six-under-par 65 to emerge as the leading Asian here Thursday.

The in-form Bhullar sank an eagle and five birdies at a sun-baked Mines Resort and Golf Club to trail American leader Troy Matteson by two strokes in tied fifth place in the USD 6.1 million tournament sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA Tour.

Danny Chia raised local cheers with a bogey-free 66 as he ended the day in joint seventh position alongside 14-time Major champion Tiger Woods, who needed a back nine charge to haul himself into the tournament.

Bhullar arrived in the Malaysian capital in top form, winning twice on the Asian Tour over the past two months. The talented Indian nearly matched playing partner Robert Garrigus of the United States, who returned a superb 64.

"This is my first visit to the CIMB and I have been wanting to play in this event. It is my pleasure to be in the part of the field where Tiger Woods is playing. We just enjoyed our 18 holes. He (Garrigus) shot a good round today and I also played good. I'm looking forward to the next three days," said Bhullar.

He made three birdies through eight holes before dropping his lone bogey of the day on nine. On the inward stretch, Bhullar struck a purple patch from the 14th hole when he nailed two birdies before rolling in a snaky 15-foot eagle putt on 17.

"That was a killer putt. That's probably the best putt of this season. I never expected it to break so much from the right, and first when I hit it, I thought I might be missing from the right. But it just died out in the hole," he said.

With fellow Asian Tour colleagues Chia and Jbe Kruger of South Africa, who also shot a 66, starting well, Bhullar is not discounting an Asian winner emerging at the CIMB Classic. The first two editions saw Americans Ben Crane and Bo Van Pelt winning the tournament.

Current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand scrambled to a 72 in a round that included four birdies, three bogeys and one double bogey.