With family in tow, Jeev returns to Macau after 12 years



With family in tow, Jeev returns to Macau after 12 yearsMacau: Returning after a gap of 12 years, Jeev Milkha Singh hopes to hit the jackpot at the USD 750,000 Macau Open presented by Cityneon in the Casino City.

Jeev still remembers some of the holes in Macau, like the 17th, where the golfers tee off from way above the greens which present a picturesque sight at the Macau Golf and Country Club.

"This is a very pretty course, but it also requires you to be careful as the wind can be a big factor," he said as he surveys the South China Sea, which runs along the two closing holes.

"Indian golf has been growing in strength with each season. Last week`s win by Himmat Rai was fantastic. Now we have a bunch of young Indians (Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar being the others) who can strike any time," added Jeev.

It has been a long time since Jeev himself won. It was back in 2008 that Jeev won four times, twice on Asian Tour and twice in Japan.

"I have given up my PGA Tour card and I want to play Europe and Asia and some events in Japan. One has to make a choice, so I have decided to cut that down. I have informed the PGA," said Jeev, who is here this week with his family - wife Kudrat and son Harjai, besides his sister and brother-in-law, who was paired with him in the Pro-Am.

"This is a nice place to relax and play golf. I am going to play in Asia again next week in the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open, which is co-sanctioned with Japan. I will play two other events in Japan and keep my membership there in Japan. I will be taking my family, too. I want my son to see Japan, which is so dear to my wife and me."

Jeev, who turns 40 on December 15, is not the only senior statesman looking to strike it big.

Thailand`s Thaworn Wiratchant, 44, who waved out to Jeev when they crossed each other during the Pro-Am, has won 12 times, and China`s 46-year-old Zhang Lian-wei, has won five times. Then there is Jyoti Randhawa, at 38, the youngest of the four, who last won an Asian Tour in 2009.

Jeev has six titles and Jyoti eight. So, the four, who have been on Asian Tour since 1995, have together have won 31 titles.

There is a strong Indian contingent led by Jeev, besides Asian Tour veteran Randhawa and SSP Chowrasia, who has two wins in co-sanctioned events, including the Avantha Masters this year, which has put him on top of the Asian tour Order of Merit.

There is Himmat Rai, winner last week and Gaganjeet Bhullar and Anirban Lahiri, who have tasted wins this year.

Shiv Kapur, who is looking to add to his sole Asian Tour win in 2005, his rookie year, Manav Jaini and Sujjan Singh lead a band which has time and again come close.

Seasoned Digvijay Singh, Mandeo Pathania, Vinod Kumar and Chiragh Kumar are other Indians in the field.

Thaworn won the event two years ago in dramatic style as he defeated Bhullar by six strokes.

He believes he will need to make his way past five out of the top-10 on the Order of Merit playing this week.

Bhullar said, "I always enjoy coming back here. Good to see the sponsors putting in more money this year. It always inspires us to play well on this golf course and I`m really looking forward to this week," said the 23-year-old.

"There`s a bit of pressure for me to go out there and win one title this year but that`s golf and I`m sure everybody is feeling the same. We do work hard to win a tournament every year. The more you work harder and the luckier you get," said the two-time Asian Tour winner.

PTI