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Why Jeev Milkha's win is key for Indian golf

Last updated on: July 17, 2012 14:46 IST

Jeev's big win means a lot for India

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Jeev Milkha Singh's big win means a lot for India. It has not only ended the four year victory drought for who I call the 'fairway hurricane' but it has also lifted India's place in golf.

We haven't been too hot on the game given that cricket clearly hogs all the limelight in our billion plus nation. We haven't yet produced much great talent like America, England or even Australia has.

- Exclusive interview: Jeev Milkha Singh

India has always waited for that big golfing icon that can produce wins to keep himself in the headlines. The good news is we are now on course.

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Image: Jeev Milkha Singh
Photographs: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

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'I love playing in difficult conditions and tournaments'

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Jeev scored a 5-under 67 for the joint-lowest round of a difficult final day at Castle Stuart links where the wind picked up to finally make the course a genuine test.

At the first playoff hole against Molinari, Singh holed a 12-foot putt to take the title and a cheque of US $631,211. On what's considered a tough day for scoring, he had a stunning start with four birdies in first six holes.

When the going gets tough, Jeev gets going. In one of our earlier interviews he told me how pressure gets the better of him.

"I love playing in difficult conditions and tournaments. When the weather is tough, my focus is better. I love a challenge and I look forward to it and end up performing in tougher conditions."

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Image: Ian Walton/Getty Images
Photographs: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Tags: Jeev , Molinari , Singh , US

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Jeev's comeback is a real story of success

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Jeev is headed next to the British Open where he joins the only other Indian at the tournament Anirban Lahiri.

"I'm looking forward to the Open championship. Coming from India I'm not used to links courses but since coming to Europe I've played a lot of links courses. This has given me a lot of confidence and I can build on that. I'm feeling fit and good things are on their way in the future."

Jeev's big comeback and his victory are beautifully timed with a four year countdown to Olympics when golf gets inducted once again in 2016.

Jeev's already expressed his desire to be part of the team. Our next generations of Gaganjeet Bhullar, Anirban Lahiri, Himmat Rai are all boosting their game as well. The Indian government many now finally lend an ear towards what has thus far been deemed an 'elite' sport in India.

Two, Jeev's comeback is a real story of success. His last win in 2008 and subsequent back problems left him on the sidelines until about eight months ago. He has shown some serious consistency since the Nordea Masters 2011, a seventh place finish at the Stockholm Masters, the sharp start at the Irish Open at Portrush more recently.

Three, Jeev's proved that routine is key. And this is a lesson for all the youngsters learning the game here in India. His yoga classes have finally paid off. He is a yoga freak and practices for an hour and a half a day.

"Yoga was one of the best things that happened to me at the age of 19."

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Image: Jeev Milkha Singh
Photographs: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

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'He made a remarkable comeback'

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Born to India's famous sprinter Milkha Singh, Jeev's got sport in his blood. He is thankful to his parents for a positive attitude towards golf and 'pushing him' for it.

Jeev remembers, "My dad was quite strict and I didn't always agree with discipline."

Milkha Singh said that they had no hope initially that his son would win the Scottish Open.

"I was closely following his game. It was a tense play-off for us and we did not miss a moment. He played well and the win has come at the right time for him as he had been struggling with injury. He made a remarkable comeback," he said.

So over the years dedication has paid off. Jeev's contemporaries too are inspired by him. Arjun Atwal calls him the most positive person he knows while Daniel Chopra says he is very strong mentally.

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Image: Jeev Milkha Singh
Photographs: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

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'It got exciting out on the course'

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Jeev's now moved into the top 90 in the Official World Golf ranking from 192nd. The Scottish Open win gave a positive twist to that old saying 'having one's cake and eat it too.'

Jeev was enjoying a nice cup of tea and some chocolate cake during an hour-long wait for the last nine groups to finish.

"I said to myself that I'd see the finish and then leave for the airport. But as the chocolate cake went down, it got exciting out on the course."

And rest as they say is history.

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Image: Jeev Milkha Singh
Photographs: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Tags: Jeev

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