Bhullar won his third Asian Tour title in Chinese Taipei two weeks ago and dedicated the win to Lu. He is now on the hunt for a unique double at the US$600,000 Asian Tour event starting Thursday.
Lu, who lives five minutes from the Taiwan Golf and Country Club, continues his rehabilitation and will not defend his title this week.
Local hero Lin Wen-tang, winner of the event in 2009, Chan Yih-shin, a two-time Asian Tour champion, Prom Meesawat of Thailand, currently seventh on the Order of Merit and highly rated newcomer David Lipsky of the United States will also feature in the Asian Tour event.
Bhullar met Lu during a dinner in Chinese Taipei recently and was delighted to see the three-time Asian Tour winner on the road to recovery.
“It so happened we were having dinner at a good Tenpayaki place and he was there with his family. He is walking and talking to everybody and seems to be recovering really fast. We have so many good memories with Lu. He is such a good player and I think any winner this week will definitely dedicate this win to him,” said the Bhullar.
Bhullar is excited of making his debut appearance at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters. “I’ve been on the Asian Tour for many years but I’ve never had the opportunity to play here. I like the challenges because the wind will be a huge factor and this course demands a sharp short game.”
Lin and Chan, who have a combined total of seven Asian Tour victories, will lead the local challenge in the absence of Lu. The ever-smiling Chan hopes to overcome an uncharacteristic 10-stretch run of missed cuts on the Asian Tour this week.
“I’ve been feeling tired and it doesn’t help my game. I can shoot a low number on day one and blow up in the next. It has been frustrating but it is always nice to play at home. It gives you motivation to play better. I don’t have a goal for this tournament yet. I just want to try and make the cut and see where the weekend round takes me,” said Chan, who finished tied fourth at the 2010 Mercuries Taiwan Masters.
Lipsky, winner of the HANDA FALDO Cambodian Classic in March, is playing in his fifth straight week on the Asian Tour and is inspired by Luke Donald’s advice on Twitter where the Ryder Cup star wrote, “Grind it out Lipper and enjoy every minute of it.”
“We are not like best friends but we went to the same school and had the same college coach. I’ve played with him numerous times. We have a really friendly relationship,” said Lipsky on his relationship with Donald, who will represent Team Europe in this week’s Ryder Cup.
He admits it will be difficult to win a second Asian Tour title this week. “This week might be tough to win. Everyone is going to have the same tough and windy conditions but I’m looking forward to it. I’ve had spurts of good golf and I’m waiting to string together four good rounds.”
Pariya Junhasavasdikul of Thailand is not dismissing his chances of repeating his success at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters in 2010 despite struggling with his swing.
“I have some swing issues. I know I’m taking the swing from the inside and losing my spine angle. I know what I’m doing wrong but I don’t know how to fix it. I’m quite mixed up with the swing. My coach hasn’t been available for me so it is time for some changes,” said the licensed pilot.
“The winning memory has faded but I was on the 18 green and trying to bring back all the memories. I still have a good feeling in this event. I’m not playing that great but the wind will pick up and it will be a fair game for everybody. I might have a good chance,” said Pariya.