Ankle pain fades in Jeev’s moment of joy (Interview)

July 27th, 2008 - 9:29 pm ICT by IANS  

By V. Krishnaswamy
New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) Wounded golfers these days seem to be having a field day. After Tiger Woods’ title-winning heroics at the US Open with a bad knee and then Padraig Harrington’s triumph despite a troublesome wrist at the British Open, it was India’s own Jeev Milkha Singh, who hobbled his way to a second title this season even as he winced with pain on his right ankle. Alternating between joy and pain, Jeev could not suppress his delight as he savoured his second victory in far away Japan in the Nagashima Shegio Invitational Sega Sammy Cup 2008 Sunday.

Jeev shot a six-under 66 on the final day for an aggregate of 13-under 275 and won by two shots over Japanese Sushi Ishigaki, who led the field by three shots after three rounds.

“This is just fantastic. I was hobbling with pain on my right ankle and even needed a physio after the first nine holes, but as the round continued, I was hitting the ball perfectly,” Jeev told IANS from Hokkaido.

Describing the see-saw battle with Ishigaki as ‘nail biting’, Jeev said: “It was very windy once again, though the golf course was playing great. I was playing a group ahead and we were in a nail-biting finish. Both of us were at 12-under, when I teed off at the 18th. I missed the fairway, but managed to get onto the green in three (shots) and holed a 20-footer downhill putt for birdie. He (Ishigaki) also missed the fairway and I don’t know where he went, but he then missed the final par putt and fell back to 11-under with that bogey making it a two-shot margin.”

Making it doubly sweet for Jeev was the arrival of his wife, Kudrat, at exactly the time he was making his final putt. “I knew she was coming today and she had walked onto the course just as I was putting on the 18th. She had no idea I was leading. And as I walked off and so did the last group, she still had no idea I had won. She suddenly saw the leaderboard and realised I had won. It was wonderful,” he said.

“She brings in a lot of luck with her,” added Jeev, who is usually accompanied by his wife on the Tour.

On his own agony through the day, Jeev said: “I was four behind, but I have been playing so well that I felt anything could happen. But my right ankle which has been paining a lot was making it tough. Maybe that helped keep my mind off the tension of a close round. I needed a physio midway through, but then in the closing stages, I birdied the 15th, 16th and the 18th and that made the crucial difference.”

On his plans for the next few weeks, he said: “I have been advised rest but I had committed to playing two events in Japan and then in the US, where I will also play the PGA Championships, the last Major of the year. I will then take a few weeks off after that and rest my ankle.”

On being reminded that in 2006, it was his wrist that was hurting him even as he won Volvo Masters in Valderrama and then again back to back in Japan in December, Jeev laughed and said: “That’s the way it goes. Sometimes a bit of pain helps.”

Possibly it does, and it also brings a lot of joy with it.

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