Brave Jeev overcomes tragedy to win year’s fourth title (Round-up)

December 7th, 2008 - 7:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, Dec 7 (IANS) Wearing the winner’s red jacket at the end of the Golf Nippon Series JT Cup and trying to smile for the cameras Sunday was indeed hard, after all that Jeev Milkha Singh went through this week. The 36-year-old Indian golfer overcame a personal tragedy to win his second title of the season in Japan and the fourth overall.

Jeev with five birdies and one bogey shot a final round of four-under 66 to total 12-under 268 and won by two shots over defending champion Brendan Jones (64), who was tied second with David Smail (66) and Taichi Teshima (68) at 10-under 270.

Stunned by the tragedy of losing what was his first child when his wife Kudrat delivered a still-born earlier this week in a Tokyo hospital, Jeev went into the tournament without having hit a single ball and that too after much persuasion from his ailing wife, who is still in the hospital.

“I dedicate this win to my wife, Kudrat, for being so strong and to convince me to go and play on the Thursday morning. A lot happened in my family over the last few days and we have gone through a lot,” said an emotional Jeev. “I also want to thank and also dedicate this win to the family members from both my and my wife’s sides.”

Jeev, who missed the Wednesday Pro-Am, was urged to play by his wife, who felt he needed to take his mind off the tragedy. He was given special permission to play in the main tournament, as players missing the Pro-Am are not allowed to tee off in the main tournament.

“Maybe I’m playing well because I’m just going out there to play. When there is no focus, you just go out and hit the ball, ” said Jeev, who this season has already won once in Bank Austria Open on European Tour, the Singapore Open in Sentosa on Asian Tour and the Sega Sammy Invitational in Japan.

After the first round, Jeev had said he was not in the mindset to play but was convinced by his wife, Kudrat, to go to the course straight from the hospital but only after the arrival of his sister and some other family members to look after.

This was Jeev’s second win in the tournament, having claimed it the first time in 2006 and last year after leading till the penultimate hole, he double bogeyed the final hole to drop to third.

Jeev, who started the final day in tied third place, opened with a birdie on the second to catch up with overnight co-leader Toshinori Muto (71), even as the other third round co-leader Thai Prayad Marksaeng (74) fell behind with bogeys on first and third.

Once in the lead Jeev played steadily with further birdies on sixth and seventh holes to turn in three-under and firmly in lead three shots clear of his nearest rival. Defending champion Jones had three birdies on front nine, as he jumped from overnight four-under to seven-under but Jeev was still way ahead.

On the back nine, Jeev stayed consistent and wavered only once with a bogey on 14th, which came after a birdie on 13th. He quickly made up for that bogey with a birdie on 15th and then closed with five straight pars for a 66 and a winning 12-under 268.

Jones, Smail and Teshima all came to the 18th at 10-under, needing a birdie to go sole second, but all managed only a par on the tough closing hole, which had cost Jeev the title last year. The par-three final hole yielded no birdies through the day.

“I love Japan and this surely has to be my favourite tournament, having won twice and coming close one other time,” said Jeev, who admitted his focus on golf was just not there this week.

“It is very difficult to focus on the game, when my mind is on something else,” said Jeev. “My mind is on so many other things that are more important to me than even golf.”

Jeev will next play in the Volvo Masters of Asia, the closing tournament on Asian Tour, where he has already wrapped up the Asian Tour Order of Merit with record earnings of over $1.4 million.

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