Path-breaker Jeev adds another win and Merit title (Profile)

November 16th, 2008 - 8:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Sentosa (Singapore), Nov 16 (IANS) Jeev Milkha Singh, who won Barclays Singapore Open Sunday and topped the Asia Order of Merit can now challenge Korean K.J. Choi to be the best in Asia. Though Choi - who is among top-20 of the world - is still ahead of him in the world rankings and has won numerous times on US PGA Tour, Jeev should get inside top-50 with this win, and is ready to go all the way to grab the Majors, which he says is his ultimate goal.

With his past good performances, Jeev has put a strong case to become the first Asian to win a Major. He finished top-10 at the PGA Championships and registered three wins on three different Tours this season including a great show at Masters.

After a barren 2007 during which he became the first Indian to tee up at all four Majors, Jeev won the Bank Austria Open and the Nagashima Shigeo Invitational Sega Sammy Cup this year.

This season also sees him with a new caddie, the experienced Janet Squire, who has now been with him from some time.

“She has been a big support. She calms me down on the course,” said Jeev.

The 37-year-old Chandigarh professional’s win Sunday was his third this year. It was also the 11th title of his career on a International Tour recognised by the International Federation of Golf Tours.

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

With the Singapore Open title Jeev has added $792,500 to his purse which virtually seals the Asian Tour Order of Merit and makes him the first golfer to cross $ 1 million in earnings in a single season and also the biggest career money winner in Asia.

“I want to win a Major, soon.” Having beaten Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els in a tight contest, he has shown that he is worthy of one.

Jeev, 36, 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.

Son of the famous Indian athlete Milkha Singh, an Olympian who was fourth at the 1960 Olympics in Tokyo, Jeev’s mother was an 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 also won a number of amateur tournaments in the U.S. and his first professional win came at the 1993 Southern Oklahoma State Open.

He first played regularly on the Asian Tour when it was 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 struggled with injury in the period between 2000 and 2005 before resurrecting his career with twin Volvo titles in 2006.

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 in 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 Padma Shri in 2007.

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