Jeev in Asian Team for Royal Trophy
New Delhi: His injury-marred season notwithstanding, seasoned Indian golfer Jeev Milkha Singh was today drafted into the Asian team by captain Naomichi `Joe` Ozaki for the prestigious Royal Trophy from January 7 to 9 in Hua Hin, Thailand.
Jeev will be part of Asia`s bid to reclaim the Royal Trophy from Europe at Black Mountain Golf Club in the coastal town of Hua Hin.
The Indian ace who will be making his third Royal Trophy appearance, admitted he has a personal reason for wanting to make a successful start to 2011.
Jeev, who has been plagued by shoulder injuries this year and is currently nursing a sore back, will start his second season on the US Tour in January playing on a medical exemption.
That means he has only a limited number of tournaments to secure his playing rights in the USA.
"The first half of the year is going to be hugely important for me ? in sprinting terms, I have to come out of the blocks quickly. And the Royal Trophy is the ideal platform for me to find that vital competitive edge.
"That inevitably kicks in straight away when you are representing your Continent in a Competition that has grown and grown, to assume real importance in the global game. The Royal Trophy has become a huge event on the sporting calendar now, and for us Asian golfers, it has quickly become our Ryder Cup," Jeev said.
Ozaki said he did not let Jeev`s injury problems sway his decision to pick the man who was Asia`s number one golfer in 2006 and 2008, and who has clocked up an impressive 19 professional victories - in the European, Japan and Asian Tours.
Jeev`s cause was also helped by the fact that his best performance in 2010 was in a `match play` event limited to the top 64 players in the world rankings - the World Match Play.
"Jeev is being very wise in taking good care of the injury and being diligent in his recovery, and I have no doubt when he walks onto the first tee at the Black Mountain Golf Club he
will be ready to produce some great golf.
"He is a widely-travelled and battle-hardened warrior, and with so many exciting young golfers in the Asian Team this time, it will be very complimentary to have players like him to offer them some valuable guidance," Ozaki said.
The Asian captain has already picked teenage phenomenons Ryo Ishikawa and Noh Seung-yul, the new Asian number one.
Noh`s Korean countryman, Kim Kyung-tae, the newly crowned Japan Golf Tour Order of Merit champion, is also in the Asian team along with two Japanese players Yuta Ikeda, winner of four titles in 2010, and Shunsuke Sonoda.
None of that quintet is over 25.
But Ozaki`s team is also peppered with experience in Jeev, Thai hero Thongchai Jaidee, and China `s top golfer Liang Wen-chong.