New Delhi: Jeev Milkha Singh, who played a crucial role in Asia`s Royal Trophy win over Europe, says the victory will give a huge fillip to the Asian and Indian golfers.
Jeev had beaten Spain`s Miguel Angel Jimenez during the tournament, which the Asian team won via play-off.
The Indian ace is also gearing up to host his invitation tournament - Shubkamna Champions -- from Friday and said that is how he could give it back to the game.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: As a member of the winning team in the Royal Trophy, how important was the victory?
A: It`s very important for Asian golf. Golf is going to boost in Asia. Very good for Asian players` confidence that they can play with the best in the world. For Indians, it shows that top players are coming out of India. Indian players have played in the Royal Trophy in the past and it will help the game improve in our country too.
Q: You had to beat Miguel Angel Jimenez? What was going through your head?
A: It was a do-or-die situation out there. I was one down after the 14th hole. On 15th I got a birdie. On 16th it was a good putt about 20footer. On 17th I made a great birdie to go 1 up. On the final hole, I had to half it with Miguel or win it for the team to go into the playoff. I knew it as team captain Joe Ozaki told me.
It`s always good to do something for the team and as it was a team event. Pressure was high but that feeling of representing the team eased it a little bit.
Winning the cup for Asia was a big thing for me. It has given me a lot of confidence and I have a lot of respect for Mr. Miguel and he is a big player. We had a good battle out there. I think its such a game that whosoever holds the most putt wins and I had most putts coming in and then the tables turned and I won.
Q: How was the atmosphere at the Royal Trophy? You know,
Europe had a stronger team. Were you thinking of winning going into the tournament?
A: We always knew we had a chance. You never know anything as its golf and anything can happen.
Q: Being felicitated with lifetime achievement award alongside 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus and eight-time European Tour Order of Merit winner Colin Montgomerie of Scotland, at Brunei right before your Invitational tournament. How did that go?
A: I think it was fantastic and it`s a great honour to be honoured and recognised alongside players like Jack Nicklaus and Colin. I think it`s an honour in itself for being recognised for what I have done for golf. It drives me more to do even more for the golf, and hopefully, I`ll be able to do that in coming years.
Q: Is Shubhkamna Champions a fitting end to your year?
A: I think it`s fantastic to have a tournament hosted by me. I am thankful to the sponsors, Shubhkamna Advert for supporting my idea, coming forward and making this happen. And also to all the pros for coming out and supporting this tournament.
Q: How is Shubhkamna Champions shaping up?
A: It`s looking good. The field is strong with all the top pros who have proved themselves as champions. It will be great Pro Am with all the top people of the country playing in it. So it`s all looking very good. Just waiting for the week to start from 21 and it will be great to see a field of all champions of India and hopefully this will help in growing the game in the country.
Q: How`s your form and what are your expectations going into the tournament?
A: My form is very good and my expectation is to have a good time and give a good time to the pros and it`s for them to make some money. I think it would not be fair to eat the cake myself. I mean I bake the cake and then eat it too, Unfair! So my target is to let the boys enjoy and I will give it a shot too and see what comes my way.
Q: Who are the other players who are strong contenders according to you?
A: There are lot of good players, all are match winners. Arjun is there, Daniel is in hot piping form, Jyoti Randhawa. And these young guys like Anirban Lahiri, Himmat Rai, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Rashid khan, anybody can win it. They are hungry and want to prove themselves. It`s good mixed up field.
All these guys are champions and have proved themselves that they can play when it matters. So it will be interesting to see. It`s a good combination of top class players who are going to fight it out.
Q: Even though your performances have been bitter-sweet in the last few weeks, you wrapped up a pretty good year on European tour compared to last year. In all Asian, European and PGA tours you made 28 cuts out of possible 36.
A: I am feeling a little confident, and most importantly, I am thinking better now. This year, it worked out better for me. I`ll be looking to play a lot abroad next year and will try to get into the Major Championships as well.
I have missed the Open Championship automatic qualification as I could not finish in top 30 in Race to Dubai rankings... Fell two short.