At top level, it's mental battle: Jeev Milkha
Chandigarh: Fresh from a win at the Scottish Open, India`s top golfer Jeev Milkha Singh said competing with some of the best golfers in the world is more of a mental battle.
"At this level, it is all mental, it`s very important to put up a good score and just hang around. You put up a good score on the last day, you are in with a good chance," 40-year-old Jeev, son of legendary athlete Milkha Singh, said here.
Talking about his Scottish Open win two weeks back, he said, "you got top players of the world, you wouldn`t expect them to come and give you a chance for the playoff. Conditions were tough, really tough, cold and windy. I knew it was a tough day. But then you got to keep your nerves and be mentally tough".
Jeev had sparked a double celebration after beating Italian Francesco Molinari in a play-off to win the Scottish Open and earned a spot at the British Open at the Royal Lytham and St Annes.
The win was Jeev`s fourth in an European Tour event. His earlier wins were Volvo China in 2006, Volvo Masters of Europe in 2006 and the Austrian Open in 2008.
Recalling his win, Jeev said the conditions were cold, almost freezing.
"I finished my round, had some chocolate tea. We were packing up, but waiting in the players` lounge. I was watching on the TV.
"He (rival) is 20-under, I am 17-under, but golfing gods were on my side. I suddenly realised that I needed to warm up, got into my golfing shoes, warmed up, played few shots and off for the playoff," he said.
At the British Open, Jeev said he felt he was tired and did not play his usual aggressive game.
"I am a very aggressive player, I think I played really conservative, I should have been more aggressive. I just felt for the British Open I was mentally very tired after the win. Focus wasn`t there; after a win you are on a high, it`s tough to get focus back," he said.
Jeev rated the Scottish Open as one of the best victories of his career, the other being at the Volvo China earlier.
"It`s one of the best wins (the Scottish Open). It is one of the big event. It gives me three year exemption on the European tour. If I get into the top 50 in the world, I get 12 tournaments in US. But I will still play Europe. I am more comfortable in Europe, I love playing there and know the courses. I like the US also, I will keep both the membership," he said.
Jeev said he has put on hold celebrations to mark his win in view of the back-to-back tournaments he is playing.
"I have really not celebrated since I won. I got home in London after the win, was getting ready for another championship. After coming back from the PGA, I think I will celebrate then."
Jeev has a packed schedule up ahead including WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio in August, for which he will leave today after a short break to be with his family.
"I am in the WGC next week, then I get into all the world events, HSBC, BMW, Shanghai, Race to Dubai, next year to Volvo Champs.
The Scottish Open win has given me a lot of confidence. My goal is to be in the top 50. I am 86th in the world right now. By the end of this year, I should be in top 50."
Jeev said he also wanted to get back to the US Masters next April. He played at Augusta three years in a row from 2007, but has not been part of the action since then.
"My goal is to get back to Augusta next season," he said.
Jeev, whose back injury has troubled him in the past, said he was fully fit and that was reflecting in his performance as well. "The most important thing is that I am physically fit and when you are physically fit, mentally you start believing in yourself. Since the whole year, I was playing well," he said, adding he does 4-5 different exercises for his back, besides doing Yoga.
Jeev feels that future of golf in India is very bright, but wants the Government to do its bit to help budding talent.
"I just feel there should be more public driving ranges. I feel the Government should be more active and come up with some plan for 2016 Olympics. There should be more funding for the game so that youngsters can prepare. You have lot of talent in the country and we can win a medal in the Olympics," he said.
Talking about golf, he said India was on the world stage now.
"I travel around the world. Full respect is given to the players, they know our golfers can win any week. We are also known for tennis, shooting and obviously everyone outside India knows us for our cricket, but it is not an Olympic sport. They know our economy is doing well," he said, adding India has good chances of winning a few medals in shooting, wrestling, boxing, tennis in the London Olympics.
On compatriot Anirban Lahri, Jeev said he has been playing well and has got a bright future.
"The main thing is to get comfortable on the tour, then you start getting close to winning and then you win. I think once you are there, it`s just a question of belief."
Meanwhile upon his arrival here this mid-week, Chandigarh Golf Association (CGA) honoured Jeev Milkha Singh and another golfer Sujjan Singh for their recent accomplishments on the European and Asian Tours respectively.
CGA president, CSR Reddy, said it was a proud moment for the Association to honour Jeev and Sujjan Singh.