Jeev wants a birthday gift, Chiragh a maiden title at Thailand

Last Updated: Dec 14, 2011, 15:27 PM IST

Chonburi (Thailand): Jeev Milkha Singh, who turns 40 on Thursday, is looking to gift himself a birthday present by winning the inaugural Thailand Golf Championships at the picturesque Amata Spring Country Club here.

The Asian tour event seems to have something for each of the Indians in the field as many of them here this week want to add further glory in perfect weather and the others want to end the year on a positive note.

Chiragh Kumar, Jyoti Randhawa, SSP Chowrasia, Himmat Rai, Shiv Kapur, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Rahil Gangjee and Digvijay Singh -- all starts here at the season-ending tournament and have their own goals.

Jeev, who last won in Japan in 2008, is looking to break his title drought at the USD 1,000,000 event starting tomorrow.

"I am 40 and have been playing for 19 years. It seems a long, long time and some of these boys were not even born, or were too young to even think about golf," he said jokingly casting a glance at the likes of Himmat, Chiragh and Kapur, all of whom were at the range at the same time today.

"My family is here, Dad, Mom, Kudrat (wife) and Harjai (son), so it is fun. And it will be nice to break that title drought here in front of them," said Jeev, who last won in Thailand at the Lexus Championships in 1999.

Jeev has also played at the Amata Course in 2009 at the Royal Trophy. "It is a lovely course and I like it," he said.

The field here is a extremely strong with a world-class starcast including reigning Major champions Charl Schwartzel (Masters) and Darren Clarke (British Open).

Also in the field are Englishman Lee Westwood, the World No 3 Spaniard Sergio Garcia, who ended a three-year winless period with two wins in Spain, the Japanese `golf prince` Ryo Ishikawa, the maverick John Daly and former Asia No 1 Simon Dyson, now No 10 in Europe.

Among Indians, Chiragh Kumar, who breezed past more established names to finish on top of the heap on the domestic Tour last week and is 18th on the Money List, wants to cap a successful year with a title here.

"It`s been a great year on the Indian Tour and then a runner-up finish at the Indian Open. I also won the Indian Money List title and I am inside top-20 in Asia. So, it will be nice to round it off with a title at the season-ending event," said the shy Chiragh, in his Rookie year on Asian Tour.

Kapur knows a thing or two about winning a season-ending event in his Rookie year. But it came way back in 2005. Since then he kept his card on the Asian Tour but on the European Tour he lost it since 2006 as he struggled with his putting through the season.

"I have switched to the belly putter for the first time in my career and I tried it practice with Kapil Dev last week. Let`s see how it goes," said Kapur.

Randhawa suddenly back in rhythm and winning form - he won the Crompton Greaves Open, an Indian tour event last week - wants to complete a Thai double. His last Asian tour win was the Singha Thailand Open in 2009.

"I suddenly feel good and I am confident. It will be nice to strike it in Thailand," said Randhawa, sporting a big smile.

Himmat, who withdrew from a local Indian event last week due to a troublesome wrist is here this week to try and add to the glory he achieved by winning his maiden title at the ISPA Handa Singapore Classic and the identical tied seventh place at Panasonic India and Hero Indian Open at home.

Gangjee is here after showcasing his talent on the Nationwide, where he will head again this year but in the meantime he wants to keep playing a few events in Asia whenever there is a chance.

"This is where I started and won back in 2004. Yes I want to do well in US, but Asian Tour is still close to my heart," he says.

Gaganjeet Bhullar, who has twice won on Asian Tour in 2009 and 2010 and this year he won the inaugural European Challenge Tour event in India, but on Asian tour he has struggled a little and flirted with thoughts of playing European and US Qualifying Schools.

Digvijay Singh has a mission this week to keep his card. Lying 87th with just under USD 30,000, he will need at least a top-5 to make the top-60 who get to keep the card for 2012.

Not here this week are Sujjan Singh, after some indecision between the European Tour Qualifying School and Thai Championships skipped both, and Anirban Lahiri, who played the European Q-School but missed making the card. Manav Jaini on the cusp at 62nd ?- the top-60 make the card for 2012- decided to stay back nevertheless.

PTI