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Injured wrist costs Jeev title

November 05, 2006 17:38 IST

An injured wrist brought misfortune to Jeev Milkha Singh. The ace Indian golfer fell short by a shot and missed out on the title at the Asahiryokuken Yomiuri Memorial 2006 golf tournament.

Tatsu Ichihara, five shots behind Jeev after three rounds, turned in a sensational comeback on the final day to card a five-under 67 while the Indian, after spoiling three putts on the final hole, managed only a one-over 73 to finish second.

This is Jeev's best on the Japanese Tour this season and the third runner-up finish in the year.

Ichihara, who turns 28 on November 17, picked his first title on Japan Tour. His previous best finish was tied second at the Mizuno Open earlier this year.

Toru Suzuki (67) was third and Hiroyuki Fujita (69) and Ike Je Chang (70) were tied fourth.

Jeev, who had 32 putts on the final day, was in line for a unique achievement to win back-to-back tournaments in two consecutive weeks. It would then have been his third title on a third different Tour after Asian and European Tours. It nevertheless meant a tenth top-10 finish in 15 starts and it moves Jeev to the 12th place in Japan Tour Money rankings.

Jeev needed a par to get into a play-off as both Ichihara and Jeev had birdies on the 15th which tied them at 17-under.

Ichihara had finished one flight ahead of Jeev and was waiting in the clubhouse as the Indian, who had at least a share of the lead for all of first three days, came towards the finish.

"I am a bit disappointed," said Jeev after the finish.

"But for that three-putt on the final hole, it has been a great fortnight --- after the win in Valderrama and then here for the first three days."

Jeev, who has been affected by a niggling wrist injury, which has often affected his putting last few weeks seemed to have been hit by it at the wrong time.

"The wrist has been bothering me for a while and it did again. After the next couple of weeks for which I am committed, I will take some time off to allow it to recuperate," said the 77th ranked Indian ace, who should come closer to his goal of making it to the top-50 in the world.

"Still I will carry this good confidence for the next two weeks in HSBC Championship and UBS Hong Kong Open," added Jeev.

"I just love golf in Japan. It was a matter of time before I won here. I have been close many times, so it is feels nice to have finally won," said Jeev.

Jeev has never won in Japan and in 2004 he lost after leading by four shots after three rounds in Asia (Okinawa Open) and finished tied second.

Today, he had his first birdie of the day on the third but his back-to-back bogeys on eighth and ninth spelt trouble as he fell back in comparison to the fast approaching Ichihara, who from 13-under overnight climbed to 17-under with four birdies in first eight holes.

Jeev parred the first four holes of back nine, while Ichihara had birdies on 12th and 13th to tie with Jeev at 17-under at that stage.

The eighth and the ninth have been two of the toughest holes this week, though Jeev did eagle the par-five eighth on second day.

Ichihara birdied the 15th and moved to 18-under and Jeev coming in one group behind in the final three-ball pairing, was also 18-under after his birdie on the 15th. A birdie on 18th would have fetched him an outright win, and a par would have put him in a play-off. But he pulled his par putt and missed and dropped a bogey that cost him a shot at the title.

Yoshikazu Haku, second overnight, dropped to three over by 13th and fell down to 12-under and went out of reckoning. He ultimately finished at 12-under for tied 10th place.

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