Jeev scripts Indian success story in European golf (Lead)

June 8th, 2008 - 9:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Vienna (Austria), June 8 (IANS) Jeev Milkha Singh made no mistake through the day as he stuck to his task and crafted a steady even par 71 reeling off 18 consecutive pars to win the Bank Austria Golf Open by one stroke at the Fontana Golf Club here Sunday. Jeev, whose first two rounds were a sensational seven-under 64 and eight under 63, finished one ahead of playing partner Simon Wakefield, who fell short despite his brave effort of three birdies in last four holes.

Wakefield shot 68 and ended at 14-under 199, three adrift of a group of five players Pelle Edberg (65), Martin Erlandsson (65), Peter Fowler (69), Michael Jonzon (67) and Michael Pyman (65), all of whom were at 12-under 201.

The win also underlined India’s huge leap forward on the European Tour, where Jeev’s success is the third one by an Indian in less than six months. The earlier ones were S.S.P. Chowrasia at the Emaar-MGF Indian Masters and then Arjun Atwal at the Malaysian Open.

The tournament had been cut short to three rounds after the first day was washed out due to rain. Jeev’s 36 hole aggregate of 15-under par 127 had equalled the lowest first 36-hole score of the 2008 European Tour season. And he then added a perfect 71 to it.

The 37-year-old Indian, who last won in December 2006 in Japan at the Golf Nippon Cup Series JT Cup thus ended his 18-month title drought. He has now won his third title in Europe following wins at the Volvo China Open and Volvo Masters of Europe, both in 2006. He also has four titles on Asian Tour and two on Japan tour.

“I knew this was coming and I was particularly happy after he first and second round, when I played near perfect golf. It was even more satisfying because I had never played on this course and missed out on the Pro-Am because of rain,” said Jeev.

“Maybe it is good if I play a golf course blind (not having ever played before),” said Jeev jokingly, and also referring to his 2006 win at the Volvo Masters in which again he never played before the actual event.

Jeev has been in wonderfully consistent form for most of the year with two second place finishes and tenth at the Wales Open last week. He was also sixth at the Crowns Championship in his only appearance in Japan this year and was 11th at the Johnnie Walker Classic in Gurgaon, India.

“I am pretty happy with the way that I have managed myself and conducted myself on the golf course. I think when any golfer gets to certain score they can get anxious and get ahead of themselves so I am very happy with the way I handled it,” said Jeev, who made no mistakes at crucial stages.

Jeev started the day at 15-under and kept his head calm and piled on the pars, leaving it to others to make a charge. “I knew the pressure was on others and I just wanted to play steady,” said Jeev.

On the front nine, it was Graeme McDowell, who made the big charge with an eagle on ninth and front stretch card of four-under 31. Then he moved to 13-under with another birdie on 13th, at which stage he was just two behind Jeev. But there were no more birdies and worse, he dropped bogeys on 17th and 18th and fell to tied eight.

Starting the day four behind Wakefield was playing with the leader Jeev. He replicated Jeev’s pars for the first sixth holes before bogeying the seventh. He got back that on the ninth. He again parred next five holes and was still four behind at that stage. Then he struck a purple patch with birdies on 15th, 17th and 18th but that still left him one behind.

Swedish duo Edberg and Erlandsson, lying 20th after 36 holes, played brilliantly on the final day with a 65 each but that only brought them to 12-under 201 and kept them pegged at tied third with three others.

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