Jeev one off lead in Japan’s tournament of golf champions


Tokyo : Indian golfer Jeev Milkha Singh continued his love affair with the Japanese Tour with a stunning six-under 64 to take a share of the second place, one shot behind leader and local hero Kaname Yokoo (63), after the first round in season-ending Nippon Series JT Cup here Thursday.

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Jeev, a winner here in 2006, had a flawless round with six birdies and no bogeys. Jeev slotted three birdies each on the front and back stretches of the Tokyo Yomiuri Country Club.

“I have been playing well and as I have always maintained if I can keep myself in contention over the weekend, I will always have a chance,” said Jeev, who had 27 putts.

Jeev has three wins this season, one each on European, Asian and Japan Tours.

“I sure love this tournament of champions. It seems to bring the best out in me,” said Jeev.

After winning it the first time in 2006, last year he was in lead till the 71st hole, but finished third after a double bogey on the 72nd hole.

The Golf Nippon Series JT Cup is the season-ending tournament, which features all winners on the Japan Tour, the defending champions and any others in the top-25 of the Money List. Jeev, despite being 34th Money List – in just three events – earned his berth with the win in the Invitational Sega Sammy Cup earlier this year.

Jeev is playing only his fourth event this year in Japan, where he spent six years in a row without success. In 2006 he won twice and this year once. This year Jeev was tied sixth at the Crowns but missed the Sun Chlorella Cup, the very next week after his triumph at Sega Sammy Cup.

Yokoo, the leader seemed to be set for a big lead, as he went on a birdie rampage from the second to the eighth on the front nine with six birdies on the stretch. He turned in six-under 29 and then added four more to go 10-under, when he came to the 18th. Yokoo courted disaster on the 18th, which he triple bogeyed to drop to seven-under, but still stayed in the lead.

Yokoo last win came in 2006 at the Mitsubishi Diamond Cup Golf.

Tied with Jeev in second were Azuma Yano, who is second on the Money List, Katsumasa Miyamoto and Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng.

Toshinori Muto had a 65 while record-breaking schoolboy Ryo Ishikawa also got off to a bright start, overcoming an early bogey to shoot a 67 and claim a share of seventh place.

Shingo Katayama, who last week confirmed his fifth Money title last week, was tied for seventh with defending champion Brendan Jones of Australia, Taichi Teshima and South Korea’s Lee Dong Hwan.