Jeev officially crowned Asia No. 1, ready for Majors

By V. Krishnaswamy, IANS,

Bangkok : It was all signed and sealed but the official coronation took place soon after Indian golfer Jeev Milkha Singh holed his final putt at the Volvo Masters of Asia on the Asian Tour for the 2008 season here Sunday. It was only a par, but the birdies through the year and some sensational performances had seen him win the 2008 Asian Tour Order of Merit by a mile.

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“It was nice knowing that the Merit title was mine soon after Singapore, but it always better to wrap your hands around the trophy officially,” said Jeev, son of the legendary Olympian Milkha Singh.

“Now my goal is a Major, which I feel I am ready to contend for and it will also mean I can sit at the same table with my father.”

“I think I’ve got the game to win a Major. I feel it all depends on the mindset that week and how you deal with the pressure. I feel I do have the game and hopefully before my golfing career is over, I will have a Major under my belt,” he added.

“It is always a big deal winning the Order of Merit on any Tour you play and to do it twice in three years is something I am very proud of. And yes, it also means a lot for Indian golf. This week you saw seven guys and two amateurs, playing in a field restricted to the best of Asia.”

In a season that seemed a near-replica of the previous stellar season, 2006, Jeev won four times – twice in Japan and once each in Europe and Asia.

“But even then this has been the best year so far in my career. In 2006, I also had four wins but I rate this season better due to my performances in the Majors. It has given me a lot of confidence and I’m more comfortable and confident when I’m under pressure,” said Jeev, whose best performance in the Majors was a top-10 at the PGA Championships.

He also finished the year inside top-50 at 36th and that ensures him a start in each of the fur Majors and the WGC, something he did even in 2006.

Jeev broke through a whole lot of landmarks in the season. He went past the $1 million dollar mark for earnings in a single season, and quickly added, “That shows how big Asian Tour has become.”

The win at the Singapore Open on Asian Tour came after second place finishes in Indonesia and Korea. In Europe, he won the Bank Austria Open and in Japan he won the Sega Sammy Invitational and the Nippon Series JT Cup.

Talking of his family, which has been a great support, and which went through a personal tragedy in the very week he won the Nippon Series, he said: “My family has always been a source of great strength. They have been right behind me each time I have needed them, from the day I took sport and through my professional career.”

He admits being son of a legend like Olympic quarter miler Milkha Singh, is never easy.

“He is and will always be the icon in Indian sport. Yes, there is pressure in being compared with him. But that is something I have learnt to live with and try to make my own name at the same time. He is also the inspiration for me.”

“Coming from a sporting family (his mother was also the captain of the national volleyball team), my father always emphasised discipline, work ethic and honesty. I’ve had positive feedback from my parents and that has helped get me to where I am today. My wife Kudrat has also been very supportive,” he said.