Kuala Lumpur: Gaganjeet Bhullar is now the top Indian golfer in world rankings as he achieved a career-best ranking of 85 after his runner-up finish at the Avantha Masters last Sunday. Bhullar's previous best was 88th achieved towards the end of last year.
Jeev Milkha Singh, who once ranked in the top-30, is the second best Indian at 104th place. In March 2009, Jeev was ranked 28th, the best-ever by an Indian. He was in the top-50 for a total of 68 weeks between late 2006 and early 2009. Anirban Lahiri is ranked 158th and Shiv Kapur is at 204th.
Bhullar, a four-time Asian Tour winner, is now on top of the Asian Tour Order of Merit where he leads with earnings of USD 262,648. "There were plenty of positives from the week. I was hitting it straight throughout the tournament and my iron-striking also improved. My course management has improved a lot over the last seven years on the Asian Tour," said Bhullar.
The 24-year-old will continue his rivalry with Aiken at the USD 2.75 million Maybank Malaysian Open which gets underway on Thursday. Bhullar is confident he can carry his momentum into the Maybank Malaysian Open, which is co-sanctioned with the European Tour, and extend his lead on the Order of Merit. "I have a strong feeling that with my current form, another tournament win is just around the corner," said the Indian, who earned 12 Official World Golf Ranking points and moved up to 85th in the world.
Meanwhile former Asian Tour Order of Merit winners Jeev Milkha Singh of India, Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee and China's Liang Wen-chong besides the 2012 Order of Merit winner, Thaworn Wiratchant will also be in the field. Jeev, a two-time Asian Tour Order of Merit number one, cut his professional teeth in Malaysia during his early days and is delighted to return to the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club where he finished tied 11th last season.
"I love coming back to Malaysia. I won a few tournaments in Malaysia when I just turned professional. It gives me some positive vibes and I seem to do well here. I love playing in front of the Malaysian crowd and I'm glad to be back," said Jeev, a six-time Asian Tour champion. Jeev is ranked 104th in the world but is confident of breaking into the top-50 by the end of the season if he stays healthy. He knows a victory or a solid result this week will push him closer towards his goal.
"I'm playing well and looking forward to a good week. I just need to tidy my game up a bit and try to get the job done. I want to get back into the top-50 in the world and if I can stay injury-free then I know I can do it," said Singh, who finished tied 23rd in last week's Avantha Masters at home.
He will be a part of a strong Indian contingent which includes Bhullar, who finished second in the Avantha Masters on Sunday, Anirban Lahiri, who won his third Asian Tour title two weeks ago and Himmat Rai, currently ninth on the Merit list. The other Indians in the field are Jyoti Randhawa, Shiv Kapur, SSP Chowrasia, Digvijay Singh and C Muniyappa,
"I think the young Indian guys are playing really well. They are playing well and they are good enough to play on any Tour in the world! It was nice to see Gaganjeet and Himmat playing well last week and Anirban winning two weeks ago!" said Jeev. China's Liang is also riding on hot form as he battled into contention at the Avantha Masters before settling for third position courtesy a hole-in-one on the last day.