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Indian master aims for Masters

By Jeev Milkha Singh’s admission, “Golf is all about timing,” but the build-up to Tuesday evening was not in sync with the spirit of the game, reports Robin Bose.

india Updated: Feb 05, 2009 12:36 IST
Robin Bose
Robin Bose
Hindustan Times

By Jeev Milkha Singh’s admission, “Golf is all about timing,” but the build-up to Tuesday evening was not in sync with the spirit of the game. The wait for proceedings to commence had started to rankle before Jeev stepped in and suppressed the irritated murmurs with his inimitable wit.

Aficionados had gathered at the Delhi Golf Club to learn about the Indian Golf Union’s (IGU) tie-up with Rolex as the official timekeeper of IGU events and to honour the country’s top amateurs. In keeping with the occasion and by virtue of being the Swiss watchmaker’s brand ambassador, Jeev’s opening words evoked guffaws. “With a Rolex now on my wrist, hope I don’t miss a tee-off.”

The form going for him, the strapping golfer was extremely chirpy. “I’ve begun the year very well, in fact beyond expectation as I didn’t practice at all during the break. In three weeks (on the European Tour), I’ve shot 30-under and yet not finished top-10. I am hitting very well but need to work on my short game,” he said.

The burning desire to succeed on the PGA Tour (read The Masters) is apparent and though the man admits, “I never do well when I play with a result in mind,” the ascent has already commenced. After a two-week break, Jeev will head to the US and prepare for the Major in early April by striking a balance between competition and rest.

“No more than 34 events this year,” he declares. Letting out the secret to his leaner look, Jeev said, “I had put on a lot of weight during the winter break and am now training hard.”

The troublesome right ankle has meant a resort to other methods. “I can’t run but am into hill-climbing. Tackling the incline at a steady pace strengthens the calf muscles without exerting pressure on the ankle,” he said.

Irrespective of the outcome in The Masters, the focus thereafter would be on Europe. “The Race to Dubai allows entry to the top-60, I will need to ensure my ranking is up.”

The mention of recession had him shifting awkwardly. “Meltdown has hit golf hard, Europe has already lost four events. Every tournament has a lock-in period (the agreement between sponsors and organisers). If it comes up for renewal in these times, the sponsors might be unwilling.” His solution: “Hang on till next year. Normalcy will return by 2011.”