Muscat, Oman, March 2: Gaganjeet Bhullar held his own and shot a three-under 69 that was absolutely superb in very difficult conditions, when high winds made scoring very tough at the Oman Open. Bhullar finished with a 69 following his 70 in first round and at four-under 140 he was Tied-third.
Also making the cut was Shubhankar Sharma (72-74) in Tied-31st, but SSP Chawrasia (77-77) exited early.
Bhullar was just one shot behind leaders Max Kieffer and Joachim Hansen, who were both five-under 139.
Bhullar revealed he has never played in such difficult conditions before. He said, "These conditions are, by far, the toughest I’ve ever played in," he said. The goal is to stay focused and relaxed and give 100 per cent at the weekend.”
He added, “The goal is to keep the ball in play, hit a lot of fairways and greens in regulation and give myself a lot of birdie looks. That will be the key for the next 36 holes. Anybody who plays in regulation and makes key birdies will be at the top of the leaderboard.”
Bhullar also said, “We were mentally prepared for this stop-play-stop because the weather forecast for the day said so, had an idea we would have come back. This is not the first time, but these are the toughest conditions I have played in.”
He added, “Last 4-5 months I have been striking the ball well and if I give myself chances and avoid those three putts, it should be fine.”
“Now I will just relax, see the physio and read some stuff back from India and time flies like that and I will be off for the third round late in the evening and come back for a long Sunday.”
Lying at three-under for 10 holes in the second when play was stopped on Friday, Bhullar found two early birdies on second and third to hit the top of the leaderboard, but he gave away two bogeys later on to finish 69, which was the second best card of the round. Bhullar was four-under for 36 holes when he finished.
By the time the delayed round at Al Mouj course, which faced which saw brutal wind conditions for last two days, ended Bhullar found himself in a tie for third place and he was just one shot behind Max Kieffer (69-70) and Joachim Hansen (70-69).
Tied with Bhullar was Brandon Stone (70) who had to play his entire round in the 'brutal' early conditions on day three.
The South African had to play his entire second round on Saturday after high winds brought sandstorms which saw play suspended early on day two. Fabrizio Zanotti (71-69) and Kurt Kitayama (66-74) were also Tied-third at four-under 140.
Stone, who shot a brilliant 10-under 60 while winning the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open last year was happy with his round in the conditions.
Kurt Kitayama saw his ball blown into a bunker on the third before play was suspended on day two and he was also one shot off the lead.