Jeev’s Done it Again

If Jeev Milkha Singh’s performance over the last five to six months is anything to go by, that fabulous year of 2006, during which he won four times and became the first Indian to be ranked in the Top 50 of the World, was only a prelude of things to come. After a winless, but impressive 2007, Jeev got back to winning ways this year in Austria. That kicked off an amazing run of form that saw him pick up another trophy in Japan, finish Tied 9th at the PGA Championship (making him the first Indian to finish in the top 10 of a Major tournament), place tenth in the European Tour Order of Merit, and now, beat a field consisting the likes of World No.3 Phil Mickelson, triple Major winners Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els and Adam Scott to win the $5 million Barclays Singapore Open.

The win in Singapore sees Jeev pocket a whopping $792,200 in prize money, which all but ensures that Chandigarh based golfer wins the Asian Tour Order of Merit for the second time in three years. His closest rival in the race, New Zealand’s Mark Brown, is over $650000 behind. The win also made Jeev the first player to have earned over $1 million in a single calendar year on the Asian Tour.

What makes this win all the more amazing is the fact that Jeev came from behind in the final round to take home the title. Scoring isn’t easy at a layout like the one at the Sentosa Golf Club this week. The rain certainly made it a little easier, since greens at the course, which had attracted a lot of attention before the tournament because of the possibility of balls just rolling off them straight into neighboring water hazards, weren’t as fast as they could have been. But, take nothing away from Jeev’s performance, especially down the stretch when he had to handle the pressure of having Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington hunting him down.

Few players on the Asian Tour would have been able to deal with that, and it just goes to show that Jeev’s now playing at a completely different level than the rest of the field over here. He may not be dominating the Tour like Tiger Woods does in the US, but no doubt he has become the player to watch out for at every tournament. However, that would change next year, since he has made it clear that he would be concentrating more on the European and US Tours. That was pretty much expected, and all eyes are going to be on him as he tries to better his record in the Majors. An invite to the Masters won’t be unexpected, even if he doesn’t end the year in the Top 50 again.

Keep an eye out for the Omega World Cup of Golf, where India would be represented by Jeev alongside Jyoti Randhawa. Everyone in the world has acknowledged the fact that India is a growing heavyweight in golf, and big things can be expected from the duo in China. Forget India vs Australia, the Champions League T20 and all, a win in China could be one of the biggest sporting achievement for the country in a long time.

Raveesh Bhalla

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