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Singh of good times

other Updated: Nov 16, 2008 22:54 IST
Ernie Els

Playing against two proven winners, who have three Majors each, India's Jeev Milkha Singh held off Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els in a crunch situation to win the $5 million Barclays Singapore Open on Sunday.

Jeev, whose win at the Volvo Masters in Valderrama in 2006 was overshadowed by Harrington winning the European Order of Merit, won by a shot over Harrington and Els. His final round card of 69 gave him a total of seven-under 277, for a one-shot win, that sealed the Asian Tour Order of Merit besides making him the leader in career earnings on the Asian Tour.

He also became the first golfer to win more than $1 million in a single season on Asian Tour. Philippa Stewart, the physio on the Asian Tour, may well become Jeev's lucky charm. Still dogged by a neck-and-shoulder strain, which necessitated a physio session in the 90 minutes between the third and fourth rounds, Jeev said: "She helped me in Indian Open (where he was fourth) and again here before the third round and again today before fourth. In fact it is people like her, who make this Tour so great. Otherwise many of us who play a lot would not be able to make it."

Jeev, leading by a shot at the 18th tee, had displayed sense of calm by playing for a par that was sure to transfer the pressure onto Harrington and Els, who needed to birdie the 18th to get into play-off.

Jeev went right off the tee into the bunker. But even as he played safe for a five he had a great third shot reaching the green. His birdie putt from 15 feet curled away from the cup's lip when it was a mere millimetres away from falling in it.

Harrington, playing a brave second shot on 18th, went for the green and the ball stopped right on top of the mound. It hung in there for Harrington to tap it in the hope of an eagle that could have taken him ahead of Jeev. He was five feet short, needing to make the birdie putt to force a play-off but he instead pushed his shot right for only a par that left him one short.

Jeev went off to submit the card and then watched Els on TV inside.

Els, in the group behind, was in the bunker in two. A brilliant bunker shot saw him come to 15 feet off the hole. Then his 15-footer curled round the lip of the hole.