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Tour Insider: In talks with Jeev Milkha Singh at the 5th McLeod Russel Tour Championship

Sameer Bahl
FEATURED WRITER
Exclusive
Published Dec 22, 2016
Dec 22, 2016 IST

Sportskeeda caught up with the most successful Golfer India has ever produced, Jeev Milkha Singh, after his 1st round at the McLeod russel Tour Championship. Here’s what the seasoned pro had to offer:

Thoughts on his 1st round at the tournament

I played well today for a round of 3 under par. I was not hitting it well off the tee with my driver and once I switched to my 3 – wood, I started hitting a lot more fairways which translated into more birdies.

I birdied holes: 1 and 8 with a bogey on the 4th to make the turn at 1 under. I knew I had to pick it up on the back nine and fortunately, I made five more birdies from within 10 feet on holes: 10, 13, 15 and 17. The highlight of my round was the chip-in birdie on 13. It looked like it wanted to move away from the hole but just fell in from the side door and was definitely a bonus birdie that helped my scorecard.

I will try and keep the bogeys as minimal as possible tomorrow as the bogeys on 11 and 18 hurt my chances of going lower today. I felt I played decently today and it could have a been a score lower than 3 under par. I putted a lot better today than the pro-am yesterday. All in all, I am happy with my round and will try and build on it moving forward this week.

It was a silly bogey on 18, it all started with my low cutty drive whch put me out of position for my second shot. I had no shot for my second shot and had to chip out sideways.

Obviously, to end with a bogey is never good and it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. However, it’s all a part of Golf though, tomorrow is a new start and a new round of Golf. I will look to start afresh tomorrow and keep the bogeys out of play. The premium is on finiding the fairways as the rough is tough this week. 

I holed a long putt on 8 but all the rest of my putts were as a result of good approaches within 10 feet everytime.

Also Read: 6 Dark Horses & Outside Picks: McLeod Russel Tour Championship

It was great to be back playing with Arjun and Jyoti today. We joked around a lot and were encouraging each other quite a bit today. At the same time, it’s tournament Golf so we were competitive and were pushing each other. 

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I am playing in an event in Kolkata after 19 years and I have loved each and every bit of the welcome that the great people of Kolkata have given me on my return to the city of joy. 

2016 season, focus on fitness and goals for 2017

Coming back from injury has been tough and I am happy that it’s water under the bridge now. The toughest part is not physical but mental as it’s always hard to overcome the doubts and lack of focus that the human mind starts feeling when you sit out on the sidelines for a period of time. 

My confidence is coming back slowly and I am trying my hardest to get back in the winners’ circle. I am playing in every event to win like always but I am sure a win is not too far. I had a great performance in Indonesia last month and it has set me up nicely for a good 2017.

I am trying to get back to my ways of 2006-2008 when I was ranked 28th in the world. Everything right now is about trying to go back to those routines and I have been working a lot on my mental side to get back to that level. 

I have my own ways of going about it and I like to be on my own for a few minutes and try and visualise everything and let it sink in. 

Also Read: First Look: PGTI’s season-ending McLeod Russel Tour Championship

I want to get back in to winning form early on in 2017 and everything onwards from the Singapore event, Jan 28th – 31st, will be with an aim of playing to win in every event. I will play 30-35 events next season and expect a big 2017 with 1 or 2 wins atleast.

I have being working extremely hard on my fitness in the last 2 years or so now as I want to keep up with these young guns who are hitting it further and straighter than ever before. I feel staying fit will help me lengthen my career and maybe last out for another 10 years.

Look at players like Tom Watson who nearly won the Open Championship in 2012 and at the time he was well into his sixties, Greg Norman who is fitter than ever late into his fifties and then there’s Jack Nicklaus who won a major at 46. I feel you can play well until the age of 55-60 if you look after your body.

Golf in the Olympics, state of Golf in India and the rising crop of talented young Indians

The young Indians are amazing. Look at Rashid Khan, Shubhankar Sharma, Khalin Joshi and Chikkarangappa, all these guys are gifted and they are primed for a lot of success. 

My word of advice to them is to stay hungry to win and keep chasing greater goals. They have to take the world on and not be content with winning at home or in Asia. They have to try and win majors and go for everything.

It definitely serves as a reminder about the current state of competition and pushes us long – timers to remain hungry as well. 

Also Read: Daily Wrap – Up: Final round at the 15th TATA Open

I feel the return of Golf as a sport in the Olympics is fantastic. The Indian government needs to start planning for the sport in the Olympics and plan 8 years ahead and not just for the next Olympics. I think it wil lead to more people taking up the sport especially in India and it should gain popularity in our country where Cricket is a religion.

There needs to be a better system for Golf in India where the Golfing bodies receive the required funding so that they can properly invest resources in budding and talented Golfers. Players need to be sent abroad for tournaments, coaching and training. The government has to grow the idea of Indian Golfers going abroad and playing in events since at the junior level so that they are exposed to it from a young age.

The shock that the Indians get when they suddenly get to play on those conditioned courses overseas has to be eliminated and only then can they deliver to their potential and expectations can be met.

I would love to represent India for Golf at the 2019 Tokyo Olympics and be the oldest Indian at the Olympics. My father tells me to go for it and represent India during his lifetime at the Olympics. He came agonizingly close to winning a medal and would love to see me win a medal for him as it would be a dream come true for him as well as me.

Views on the 2016 McLeod Russel Tour Championship

The golf course is in superb condition and I have’t seen it in such a great shape ever. It’s a great challenging layout and I see a lot of maintenance changes since my last time. The grass on the fairways is different and the rough is thicker so a big kudos to the committee and the course staff for keeping the course in immaculate condition, not just for this event but all year round.

Aditya Khaitan, the MD of McLeod Russel, does a phenomenal job of making this event a grand success and it is his love for the game that is amazing to see. It is what brings us big names to this event; the tournament is a season-ending marquee event which attracts a host of Asia’s top players as well as us Indians who play overseas. He does a great job of sponsoring amateurs and growing the game through his efforts and has all the support of us players for his initiatives in Indian Golf.

There is a huge buzz around Indian Golf with the likes of Shubhankar coming up and Gagnjeet and SSP winning a few times in recent months. Aditi Ashok has done a terrific job in her rookie season on the Ladies European Tour and there is a revolution in progress with regards to Indian Golf.

I would love to get a win again on Indian soil and there is not a better time than my return to Kolkata after a span of 19 years. My approach heading into the rest of the week will be the same; to hit fairways and greens and keep the errors as low as possible. 

Jeev shot a fine round of 3 under par which included a chip in, 6 birdies and 3 bogeys. 
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