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Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Gaganjeet Bhullar can bully the opposition in his beloved Indonesia

Gavin Green could also challenge

Indian golfer Gaganjeet Bhullar
1 of 1

Sky Sports Golf from 5am Thursday
Event starts at midnight

Palmer's top tip
Gaganjeet Bhullar 50-1
Zurich are sponsoring the Indonesian Masters and the insurance giants have convinced Justin Rose to trek from the Bahamas to Jakarta for an Asian Tour gathering with a first prize of only $135,000.

It is safe to assume that Rose, who is a brand ambassador for Zurich, is getting some extremely healthy appearance money for an event to which the world number six would ordinarily not give a second thought at this time of the year.

Rose, the stand-out name in the field, is bound to have his supporters at 7-2 for the final event of the year, but questionable motivation combined with a course debut make the Englishman easy to pass over.

He was heavily involved in the Race to Dubai Final Series, pipped by Tommy Fleetwood for the RTD crown, and has since competed in the Hong Kong Open and the Hero World Challenge.

It is doubtful whether Rose has done any practice since the Hero and he must be desperate to put the clubs away for the festive season. An unsettled weather forecast may drain enthusiasm further and the favourite could just go through the motions this week.

Much better value than Rose is the 50-1 about Gaganjeet Bhullar, who was thrilled to see his compatriot Shubhankar Sharma make his European Tour breakthrough in the Joburg Open on Monday. Sharma is being touted as potentially the best player India has produced, but the achievements of Bhullar should not be sniffed at.

Nobody has won more times on the Asian Tour before the age of 30 than Bhullar, who registered an eighth victory in the Macao Open at the end of October.

The 29-year-old has become a prolific champion and three of those Asian Tour triumphs have come in Indonesia. His breakthrough came in the 2009 Indonesia President Invitational, then he won the Indonesia Open in 2013 and 2016.

Bhullar, one of the best drivers on the circuit, has form figures of 20-3-MC-5 at this week's venue, and the missed cut was by a single shot at a time when his game was in dismal shape. He had not broken 70 all year and had missed his four previous cuts, but still came close to making the weekend in Jakarta.

This time, Bhullar is full of self-belief. He has posted three more top-20s on the Asian Tour since his Macao glory, including in the Indonesian Open. Sharma's success seems sure to act as an extra spur and Bhullar is well capable of joining fellow countryman Anirban Lahiri on the Indonesian Masters honours board.

Next best
Gavin Green 35-1
Wrapping up the Asian Tour Order of Merit title a week early will have thrilled and relieved Gavin Green in equal measure, and this rising star could freewheel his way to more silverware over the next four days. Green should fall in love with Royale Jakarta, a layout close to home which plays to his strengths.

The Malaysian powerhouse made his Asian Tour breakthrough at the Taiwan Masters in October and turns 24 at the end of this month seemingly assured of a wonderful future. He finished runner-up four times from March to September, but has ended the year with a taste for trophies.

Other selections
Dodge Kemmer 200-1
Johannes Veerman 80-1
Complete your staking plan with two Americans who appear to be approaching the peak of their powers. Dodge Kemmer and Johannes Veerman look ready to become Asian Tour champions.

Kemmer has a passion for travel and made his first Asian Tour forays in 2012. He devoted most of his time to the Challenge Tour in subsequent years, but has played exclusively in Asia since the start of 2016. The 30-year-old made some swing changes at the end of last season and four under-par rounds for 12th spot in the Indonesian Masters provided great encouragement.

Kemmer was sixth in the Indonesian Open a few weeks later, then started 2017 with third spot in the Bangladesh Open. Starts have been limited since, but fourth place in the Yeangder Players Championship was a superb return to action in October.

Veerman is five years younger and turned pro in 2015. He came through Asian Tour Q-School in 2016 and immediately established himself as a leading light on the Asian Development Tour, winning the Taifong Open in July. He was 26th on his Indonesian Masters debut, then second in the Indonesian Open.

Veerman was runner-up in the Yeangder Players Championship in October, then fifth in the Macao Open. Kemmer and Veerman are two of the longest drivers on the Asian Tour and the dynamic Yank duo will be licking their lips at the Royale Jakarta set-up.

Others to note
Kiradech Aphibarnrat
The chunky Thai won on the Asian Development Tour on Sunday and finished fourth in his only previous Royale Jakarta spin. This assignment looks perfect for him and he is the most attractive of the market principals, but he was complaining of a back strain during his low-grade success last week, so comes with an injury risk.

Phachara Khongwatmai
The talented Thai teenager finished second in this event last year and is a tempting price, but he has looked a little jaded in the last few weeks, performing erratically.

Dylan Frittelli
The South African won the Mauritius Open in a playoff the week before last, then finished 42nd in the Joburg Open. This is a course debutant who is probably short of energy as he tackles his seventh consecutive week of competition.

Shubhankar Sharma
The 21-year-old Indian was an impressive winner of the Joburg Open. Full of potential, but missed the cut by eight shots in only previous Royale Jakarta start.

Scott Vincent
The big-hitting Zimbabwean appears to be developing into a champion. This low-grade Asian Tour gathering on a suitable track provides a breakthrough opportunity.

Brandt Snedeker
The former FedEx Cup champion is working his way back to form after a long injury lay-off and is extremely difficult to fancy on his course debut.

Staking plan
G Bhullar
2pts each-way 50-1 bet365, BetBright
G Green
2pts each-way 35-1 bet365
D Kemmer
1pt each-way 200-1 Coral
J Veerman
1pt each-way 80-1 Coral


The lowdown

Course Royale Jakarta Golf Club, Jakarta, Indonesia
Prize money $750,000 ($135,000 to the winner)
Length 7,304 yards Par 72 Field 150

Course records – 72 holes 269 Lee Westwood (2011) 18 holes 64 Wen-tang Lin (2014), Anirban Lahiri (2014), Rashid Khan (2014), Thongchai Jaidee (2014)

Course winner taking part Poom Saksansin
When to bet By midnight Wednesday
Where to watch Live on Sky Sports Golf from 5am Thursday

Time difference Indonesia is seven hours ahead of the UK and Ireland.

Course overview Royale Jakarta is a long, open, straightforward, parkland track, which is inviting to big-hitters and has yielded a winning score of 15 under par or better in five of the six editions of the Indonesian Masters.

Water and bunkers will punish the seriously errant. Large greens provide easy targets. The tournament was originally staged in April, but has been moved later in the calendar through the years, with this being the latest slot.

The Indonesian Masters has replaced the Thailand Golf Championship as the flagship event on the Asian Tour.

Story of last year Poom Saksansin turned the tournament into a procession, the Thai youngster winning by five shots.

Weather forecast Heavy rain in the build-up has softened the course, and more wet stuff is expected over the weekend. Light breezes throughout, but a constant thunderstorm threat.

Type of player suited to challenge This assignment is a sluggers' paradise – a soft, open venue made for powerhouses. Lee Westwood (three times), Bernd Wiesberger and Anirban Lahiri, who all give their ball a healthy ride off the tee, won the first five editions.

Key attribute Power


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Nobody has won more times on the Asian Tour before the age of 30 than Bhullar, who registered an eighth victory in the Macao Open
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