Abu Dhabi, Jan 19 (PTI) Gaganjeet Bhullar made a solid start to his year, finishing tied 27th in the USD 7 million Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, the first Rolex Series event of the season on the European Tour, on Saturday.

The 30-year-old from Kapurthala shot an even-par 72 in his final round to tally seven-under par 281 for the tournament, which was won by Ireland’s Shane Lowry (71) after an epic battle with Richard Sterne of South Africa.

Sterne (69) started the day three shots behind Lowry, but birdied four of his first five holes to get off to a hot start. He led by four shots after 12 holes, but closed with two bogeys while Lowry made three birdies coming in.

The 31-year-old Irishman finished on 18-under par 270 and is expected to rise to No. 40 in the world ranking.

Bhullar had played in the leader group in the tournament with Phil Mickelson back in 2014. He had shot a final-round three-over 75 to drop down to a share of 10th place that year. He could not match the finish Saturday, but was delighted nevertheless with his efforts over the demanding National Course of Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

“I have not played any competitive golf for more than a month now, so to come out here on a very tough golf course and play solid golf all four rounds was very pleasing,” said Bhullar, who bogeyed the 14th and 16th holes coming in.

“I hit the ball really well on all four days and the only disappointment was that I made a couple of loose putts today on the back nine. This is a big prize-money Rolex Series event and there is some pressure to make sure we play well in these. I have two more events in Dubai and Saudi Arabia after that and this start is going to be a good confidence boost ahead of them.” On Saturday, Bhullar started with a par from the greenside bunker on the opening hole, and then got a birdie from another greenside bunker on the par-5 second. He made the turn at even par after making bogeys on the fourth and sixth holes from the bunker, before a peach of a third shot to one feet on the par-5 18th gave him another birdie.

Back-to-back birdies on the 12th and 13th holes got him going again, before the late bogeys on the 14th and 16th holes.

The most successful Indian on the Asian Tour (nine titles) regained his European Tour card last year by winning the co-sanctioned Fiji International.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.