Jeev rebounds from ankle injury to win in Japan golf (Lead)

July 27th, 2008 - 9:35 pm ICT by IANS  


Hokkaido (Japan), July 27 (IANS) Indian golfer Jeev Milkha Singh, playing with a hurting right ankle, called in for a physio midway through the final round, but did not waver from winning path, as he won the Nagashima Shigeo Invitational Sega Sammy Cup here Sunday. The 36-year-old Chandigarh professional shot a six-under 66 with three birdies in the closing four holes and totalled 13-under 275.

Jeev, who was lying fourth at the start of the final day surged to a two-shot win over Japanese Sushi Ishigaki (72) for his third career win in Japan. The win fetched Jeev 30 million Yen and also carried him to fourth place in the Japan Tour Money List, despite having played only two events in Japan and two Majors - the Masters and the US Open - which also count towards the Order of Merit.

“This is a great reward to make up for the disappointment of sitting out the British Open,” said Jeev, who has been having a great season. This was the second title for Jeev this season after his Bank Austria Open last month.

Jeev now has three titles each from Japan and European Tours besides four others on Asian Tour.

Jeev came close to qualifying for the British Open on more than one occasion but in the end failed to make the cut and sat out the week.

Jeev, who has been having some problems with his ankle and has been advised rest, decided to go ahead with his commitment to play two weeks in Japan before moving to the US.

“I have been playing very well these last few weeks and it was just bad luck that I could not get into British Open at Birkdale. I have always enjoyed Japan and I have such great memories here, as I won twice in 2006. Earlier this year at the Crowns also I had a chance but finished sixth,” added Jeev.

“My goal is to get back to top-50 and play all Majors and the big events and that’s what all golfers aim for.”

Jeev, starting the day four shots behind leader Ishigaki, birdied the third and fourth and then added a third birdie on eighth to turn in three-under, at which point, he was just one shy of Ishigaki, who had parred the front nine with all pars.

Jeev birdied the 11th but gave that away on the next with a three-putt bogey on 12th. But Ishigaki, playing a group behind, also bogeyed the 12th and Jeev, the three-under for the day, was the co-leader with Ishigaki, now one-over for the day.

The see-saw battle continued as Jeev parred the par-5 13th and 14th, but Ishigaki, following him, birdied the 13th and 14th to move into lead again.

Jeev hit back with birdies on 15th and 16th and as the players came to the 18th, they were both at 12-under, but the Indian was one group ahead of Ishigaki, who was in the last group.

Despite missing the fairway, Jeev reached the green in three shots and faced a 20-foot downhill putt for birdie. “I holed that perfectly and waited for him,” said Jeev, who came into the clubhouse lead at 13-under.

Ishigaki also missed the 18th fairway and then ran into further trouble and barely reached the green in four. He needed to hole the 15-footer for a par, but missed it and settled for a bogey that saw him finish two behind Jeev.

Through the day Jeev drove brilliantly missing just one green through the day but again needed 30 putts for the day. However, his brilliant iron play carried the day.

There was a four-way tie for third place at nine-under with Ryo Ishikawa (67), Taigen Tsugamari (68), Akio Sadakata (69) and David Smail (69), all of whom finished at nine-under.

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