New Delhi: Currently India's highest ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings at 150, Gaganjeet Bhullar is closing in to earn full European Tour playing rights for next year.
The European Tour which covers around 45 tournaments with approx 133 million Euros prize money and visits 25 countries is considered the 2nd most lucrative professional tour behind the USPGA Tour.
In February this year, Bhullar gave himself a flying start towards the European Tour when he bagged a hefty cheque of 200,000 Euros with his 2nd place finish at the Euro 1.8 million Avantha Masters at Jaypee Greens, Greater Noida.
Bhullar's exploits in Europe have placed him at 102nd position in the Tour rankings known as the Race to Dubai. The top 110 players earn their playing rights automatically for the following year.
Last season, the 110th player on the European Tour earned 203,365 Euros and the 25-year-old from Kapurthala, who was recently conferred with the Arjuna award, has already passed that figure with a total earning 228,355 Euros till date.
With Bhullar all but confirmed for the USD 8.5 million HSBC World Championship in which he will be guaranteed a minimum of USD 25,000, his position on the European Tour for 2014 is close to being secured.
Bhullar, if granted a full card, will join Jeev Milkha Singh as only two fully exempt Indian players on the 2014 tour.
In the past, besides Jeev, who has been a regular in Europe for the past 15 years, other star Indians Arjun Atwal (a two-time winner on the European Tour, now based in USA), Jyoti Randhawa (an eight-time winner on the Asian Tour) and SSP Chowrasia of Kolkata with two European Tour victories and Shiv Kapur, have all represented India and shown their mettle on the European continent.
A full European Tour card will give Bhullar a chance to play a minimum of 18 starts on the 2014 season. Also, as the European Tour carries higher world ranking points than Asia, a full card will allow him to earn points faster which might get him into the top-50 places in the world.
It will also help him to book a berth at the 2016 Olympics as well as all the four Major Championships and lucrative World Golf Championships.
Having enjoyed the victories like Venetian Macau Open, Yeangder Tournament Players Championship last year on Asian Tour, Bhullar could have the opportunity to perform on a bigger stage.
With chances for Indians to earn European Tour Cards diminishing after India's sole event on the European Tour Avantha Masters, being cancelled in 2014 and the European Challenge Tour announcing the cancellation of the Kensville Gujarat Challenge, Bhullar may be the last Indian to be the beneficiary of a European Tour on Indian soil.
In the past SSP Chowrasia who won two European titles held on Indian soil and Shiv Kapur who won the 2013 Kensville Gujarat Challenge have made good use of the lucrative events held on home turf.