Bhullar wins Fiji International, Els finishes strong for 3rd
SIGATOKA, Fiji (AP) — India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar held out a record-breaking charge from Australian Anthony Quale Sunday to win the Fiji International by one stroke while Ernie Els shot a 7-under 65 to finish a further stroke behind.
Bhullar, the overnight leader by a shot, produced his best round of the tournament, a 6-under 66, to move to 14-under over four rounds at the par-72 Natadola Bay course. Quayle went lower, shooting a course record 9-under 63 to all but snatch the trophy and the winner’s share of a $1.2 million purse.
Bhullar and Quayle shared 11 birdies and three eagles in a thrilling final round duel while Els added an eagle and six birdies for his first top-10 finish since June, 2016.
New Zealand’s Ben Campbell, leader after the first and second rounds, tied Els in third place at 12-under while Australian Jarryd Felton was fifth two shots back.
The par-5 17th played a big part in the theater of the final round as Quayle and Bhullar made back-to-back eagles. Quayle had taken the lead at 13-under as he played his first 14 holes in 7-under par and had picked up nine shots in 13 holes when he eagled the 17th.
But the 30-year-old Bhullar snatched back the lead when he chipped in from 40 meters at the 17th just as Quayle reached the clubhouse. A par at the last was enough to retain the lead and to give him his fourth Asian Tour title in three seasons.
“To be honest, I was mentally prepared for that,” Bhullar said. “I knew somebody or another had to go low today. Even Ernie Els, he’s a legend, he was playing really well.
“I still had hopes. I still had kind of a feeling that I can still win the tournament, but I think that chip-in on No. 17, that pretty much closed out the day.”
Four-time major winner Els gave notice of his challenge with an eagle at the par-5 first which put him within a shot of the lead.
“I did almost as much as I could,” Els said. “I set out to try to shoot 65, which I did, and Anthony just played unbelievable. Jeez, what is it, 29 on the back nine? That’s unbelievable stuff.”