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Rediff.com  » Sports » Jeev geared up for Indian Open

Jeev geared up for Indian Open

October 01, 2007 20:26 IST

Jeev Milkha Singh cannot wait to tee up at the Hero Honda Indian Open next week. Not surprising for the man, who is credited with taking Indian golf to new levels. He will be playing in India after a gap of four years.

"It will be nice to compete once again in India. Who does not love playing at home? It has just been that my schedules have been such that have meant I have been playing other events when Asian Tour events have happened in India," said Jeev, while on a visit to India last week.

"I am hoping to play more events in India in the future. The Hero Honda Indian Open works out perfectly for my schedule."

Jeev, who won four times in 2006 and finished on top of the UBS Asian Tour Order of Merit last year while rising to No 37 in the world, has this season played mostly on the European and US Tours Tour besides making an appearance in all four Majors.

"The Majors were a great experience and, in particular, I was proud of the way I played at the Masters and the US Open," he said.

"Frankly, I have always wanted to do well at the Delhi Golf Club. But have never really managed to win. I came pretty close in 1998, when I was second at the Hero Honda Masters, so, maybe, with the same sponsor for the Indian Open, I can do better," he said with a chuckle.

Talking of his 2007 season, Jeev is the first to admit it has not been as great as 2006.

He said, "Last year was a dream one for me. Winning four tournaments was a dream. It was not just winning, but I was in contention in another half a dozen events and was among top-10 frequently. This year, I would rate my performance this time as 'okay'."

This year Jeev has not played in Asia since the Clariden Leu Singapore Masters in February.

"I have been concentrating on Europe and US Tours. But when I got a chance to figure on Asian Tour and play in India, I jumped at the chance," he said.

For the present, he is playing the star-studded event at Dunhill Links, where it is not just the golfers, but also Hollywood celebrities like Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta, both keen golfers, who turn up at the first tee.

"It is a great tournament and I love playing at the Old Course at St. Andrews," he said.

Jeev also has happy memories of the course, for it was at St. Andrews that he alongwith Gaurav Ghei and Ali Sher shocked Scotland on their home turf at the Alfred Dunhill Cup as it was called when it was held as a team championships back in 1996.

Now the Alfred Dunhill Championships is a five million dollar Celebrity Pro-Am event.

Jeev is very bullish on Indian golf.

"It is a very exciting time for Indian golf. From a tournament with a modest purse, the Indian Open has grown into a half a million dollar event. Then there are lots of new players coming up and I am sure we will see a few more exciting faces at the Hero Honda Indian Open. Also new courses are coming all over.

"All in all, with so much happening, it is no surprise that every one wants to come to India."

As for a further push to Indian golf, Jeev feels that more driving ranges and public courses are the answer.

"The more we have of driving ranges and public courses, the greater the chances of more and more talent coming up," he added.

After the Hero Honda Indian Open, Jeev will head back to Europe to defend his Volvo Masters of Europe title and then he will play in Asia and Japan.

"I also have two titles to defend in Japan, he says remembering fondly how he won back to back on two successive weeks in Japan.

But before all that, his goal is to notch up a big win in India, something which he has not done since he turned pro.

"I have won events all over in Asia, Europe and Japan, but what I would love to do most is win an Indian Open in India. Nothing will be more sweeter than that," says Jeev. Who knows it might all come true in a fortnight's time.