Jeev is the Christopher Columbus of Indian golf

July 27th, 2008 - 5:43 pm ICT by IANS  

By V. Krishnaswamy
New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) Jeev Milkha Singh, unarguably the best Indian golfer, has had a career full of so many firsts that he can be called the Christopher Columbus of the Indian golf. He has been the first to venture out internationally and embark on what has turned out be an immensely successful career. Korean K.J. Choi apart, few other golfers have had the kind of success on international tours as Jeev. While Choi has multiple wins on the US Tour, Jeev has done that on Asian, European and Japan Tours.

The 36-year-old Chandigarh professional Sunday achieved his third win on the Japan Tour. It was also his second title of the year and the 10th of his career on an international tour recognised by the International Federation of Golf Tours.

Jeev had four wins on the Asian Tour between 1995 and 1999, and had to endure a seven-year title drought before he won the Volvo China Open in 2006. Soon after that, he won three more in the same year.

After a barren 2007 during which he became the first and only Indian to tee up at all four Majors, Jeev won the Bank Austria Open in June 2008 and Sunday he won the Nagashima Shigeo Invitational Sega Sammy Cup, his third win in Japan.

Born December 15, 1971, Jeev was the first Indian golfer to become the member of the European Tour and he was also the first Indian full member of the Japan Tour.

Jeev now divides his time between Asian, European and Japan Tours and ultimately aims to play regularly on the US PGA Tour.

Jeev is the son of famous Indian athlete Olympian Milkha Singh, who was fourth at the 1960 Olympics in Tokyo, and India’s international basketball player Nirmal Milkha Singh.

An alumni of the Abilene Christian University in the US, Jeev also won the NCAA Division II individual golf championship in 1993. He won a number of amateur tournaments in the US and his first professional win came at the 1993 Southern Oklahoma State Open.

He first played regularly on the Asian Tour when it was first set up in 1995. In 1997 he finished seventh at the European Tour Qualifying Tour and he joined the European Tour the following year.

He also joined the Japan Tour in 1999 and at one time also held a card in South African Tour to be the only Indian with cards in four international Tours.

He struggled with an injury between 2000 and 2005. In April 2006 he won the Volvo China Open to become only the second Indian player to win on the European Tour after Arjun Atwal. He also won the season-ending Volvo Masters, which saw him finish the season in 16th place on the Order of Merit.

He finished 2006 as the winner of the Asian Tour Order of Merit and capped his season with back-to-back wins in Japan to become the first Indian to make the top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings. He finished the season at 37th place, to date the best ever achieved by an Indian golfer.

In 2007 he became the first Indian to play at the Augusta Masters and made the cut, an effort he repeated in 2008 when he was given a special invitation to the tournament.
He was also awarded the Padma Shri in 2007.

Jeev’s title wins on International Tours outside India have been:
Asian Tour wins (4)
1995 (2) Philippine Classic, Asian Matchplay Championship
1996 (1) Philip Morris Asia Cup
1999 (1) Lexus International

European Tour wins (3)
2006 (2) Volvo China Open, Volvo Masters
2008 (1) Bank Austria GolfOpen

Japan Golf Tour wins (3)
2006 (2) Casio World Open, Golf Nippon Series JT Cup
2008 (1) Nagashima Shigeo Invitational Sega Sammy Cup

Other International wins (4)
1993 (1) Bukit Kaira Golf Championship (Malaysia)
1994 (1) Shinhan Donghae Open (South Korea - not an Asian Tour event)
1995 (2) Thailand PGA Championship, Toyota Crown Open (Thailand)

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