Melbourne, October 29: Anirban Lahiri has chosen nine-time Asian Tour winner Gaganjeet Bhullar as his partner after Shubhankar Sharma pulled out of the ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf to be held from November 21 to 25.
Sharma, who was committed to three PGA Tour events in Asia, is also due to play three events in Turkey, South Africa and Dubai making it six weeks in a row. With events in Hong Kong and Joburg, where Sharma will be defending his title, and Mauritius and Indonesia also due before the year ends, the Indian youngster will have his hands full.
Following Sharma's withdraw from the event, Lahiri, who is now established on the PGA TOUR, was given the option to select a partner to join him in Melbourne. Talking about picking Bhullar, Lahiri said: "Gagan has been playing very consistently this year and had an amazing win in Fiji. He's got a really solid all-around game and practically no weaknesses.
"We go back a long way and this won't be our first time for Team India. We have good chemistry on the course and understand each other's game well. I think we will combine for a strong Team India."
Lahiri and Bhullar were part of the Indian national team to win the team silver medal in the 2006 Asian Games when they were amateurs. It will be Bhullar's second time teeing it up in the World Cup of Golf, having last played in the team event in 2013 at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club, where he also partnered with Lahiri, who is also a two-time International team member of the Presidents Cup.
The 2018 ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf will see the 56-player field vie for the largest prize-money purse in Australian golf, with USD 7 million on offer. Bhullar, 30, has enjoyed another stellar season on the Asian Tour, collecting four top-5 finishes, including a win at the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways. Bhullar closed with a final-round 66 to edge Australia's Anthony Quayle by one stroke and 2019 Presidents Cup International Team Captain Ernie Els by two.
Bhullar qualified for last week's World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions by virtue of being inside the top 5 of the Asian Tour Order of Merit, where he finished T46. "It's a great privilege for me," Bhullar said. We play all of these individual events and we hardly get to represent our country so I'm very honoured and feel my hard work has definitely paid off this year.
"This will be my second event in the World Cup with my previous one being with Anirban, so we really gel on the golf course. We've played a lot of junior and amateur golf together and understand each other's game plan really well so I'm looking forward to the World Cup."