Jeev leads huge Indian contingent at Singapore Open
Singapore: Jeev Milkha Singh, who triumphed at the Sentosa Island against a very strong field, is hoping to feed of those positive memories as he leads a strong Indian campaign at the Barclays Singapore Open at Serapong and Tanjong Courses from Thursday.
The 39-year-old, who won on the 72nd hole, seems to have found some of the form that catapulted him into the top-30 of the world at one stage.
The field is gigantic by any standards and 204 professionals will tee off on two courses - Serapong and Tanjong - for the first two days and then after the cut, the top-65 and ties will play on the Serapong for the final two rounds.
In keeping with such a huge field, there are as many 16 Indians, one of the highest ever in an event outside of India, and virtually every major Indian golfing name barring Arjun Atwal will be here this week.
"It was a great win in what was also a superb year for me," said Jeev, who after 2008, has been hit by injuries and a loss of form that saw him spiral out of the top-200.
"My goal is to get back to the top-50 and play the Majors as I did 2-3 years back. My game is coming around. I am not fully fit, not 100 per cent but things are moving in the right direction. I have had some decent finishes and I feel more confident," added the golfer, who has had two top-5s in Macau and Japan and then a 10th place finish at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia and tied 23rd in WGC-HSBC.
"It is a challenging course and I like it and it is going to be a great week with some really big names here."
For the Asian Tour players, the event is also about a fight for the Order of Merit, which brings with it a lot of benefits.
Jeev, Asia`s number one in 2006 and 2008, used his Barclays Singapore Open to land the second of his Merit crowns, which rewards the champion with a spot in the British Open and WGC-Cadillac Championship.
"It`s at the back of my mind," said the widely-travelled Indian.
"This tournament made me win the Order of Merit in 2008. I`m thinking about it and will give it a go and see what comes my way. Winning the Order of Merit on any tour is fantastic especially in Asia where I started from," he added.
He is currently ninth on the rankings and Jeev has a great feel about this event in the Lion City.
"Excellent memories. The way I won the tournament was fantastic and it gave me a lot of confidence. The course is excellent and I love Singapore as it`s one of my favourite cities in the world. It`s like New York. There`s so much buzz in the city and that`s what I love about Singapore. I take it down to the golf course with me."
The Indians in the field include the European Tour regulars, SSP Chowrasia, winner of Avantha Masters, Shiv Kapur besides Jeev Milkha Singh. Asian Tour regulars include Gaganjeet Bhullar, Anirban Lahiri, Himmat Rai, Jyoti Randhawa, Gaurav Ghei and Digvijay Singh.
The new lot making their mark in the past one year includes Chiragh Kumar, second at Hero Indian Open, Manav Jaini and Sujjan Singh. Then there is also Rahil Gangjee who played the whole of this year on Nationwide, and made the berth here on the basis of his 25th place on Asian Tour last season.
The trio, Mukesh Kumar, a veteran on Indian Tour, Ashok Kumar, who has been successful at home, and newcomer Rashid Khan are also in the field.