Tiger Woods is the only athlete in the world who is bigger than the sport he plays, Indian golf veteran Jeev Milkha Singh said Tuesday as he complemented the American superstar, who once described him as a "great guy and a good friend".
Jeev, whose career took a hit because of incessant injury breakdowns, praised the American for winning his 80th PGA Tour title last month, which was his first in five years.
The win made for a remarkable triumph over career-threatening injuries for the celebrated 42-year-old, who endured quite a few other setbacks in the last few years as well.
"I feel that he has got another three-four years during which he is going to win a few tournaments," said the 47-year-old Jeev.
"For me, personally, Tiger is the only athlete in the world who is bigger than the sport...there have been legends in basketball, in athletics, but I think what Tiger has done for golf, he is bigger than the sport.
"The awareness he has brought for golf, I think nobody could have done that," added Jeev.
In 2006, when Jeev was in peak form, Woods was effusive in his praise for the Indian for winning back-to-back titles in Japan. The American went on to say that he likes to track Jeev's progress and called him a "good friend".
Jeev was recently honoured by the The Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI), which a tournament, the Take Open Golf Championship, after him.
The Chandigarh leg of the domestic PGTI Tour will be called the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational Presented by Take Solutions.
The tournament will be played at the Chandigarh Golf Club, Jeev's home club, from November 1 to 4 and will offer an enhanced prize purse of Rs 1.5 crore. That's an increase of Rs 50 lakh from last year's prize when Shubhankar Sharma won.
About the upcoming tournament, Jeev said, "I am sure it is going to be a grand success. Players love coming here to play, they enjoy the hospitality here".
Jeev said he plans to do full justice to the tournament as a host but that would not stop him from trying to win the title.
Asked if there would be pressure on him playing at his home course, he jokingly said, "As a host the pressure on me is going to be that players are well taken care of".
Chandigarh Golf Club President B S Gill said this tournament is going to be a game-changer for golf in India.
"What is happening in Chandigarh today is that there is a huge dynamic shift and players are wanting to come to the city to play," Gill said.
Top names competing in this event will be Jeev, SSP Chawrasia, Shiv Kapur, Jyoti Randhawa, Mohd. Siddikur Rahman (Bangladesh), Viraj Madappa, Khalin Joshi, Chikkarangappa and Chiragh Kumar.