From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.32 :: NO.01 :: Jan. 03, 2009

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GOLF / INTERVIEW/JEEV MILKHA SINGH

The golfing scene in India is vibrant

Chiranjeev Milkha Singh is set to start an academy at the Skytop Golf Village in Mysore. “The academy will be the best of its kind and will provide the best of professional training to golfers,” says the brand ambassador of Skytop Golf Village, in a chat with C. K. Muralidharan.

M. A. SRIRAM

Jeev Milkha Singh tees off to launch the Skytop Golf Village project in Mysore.

The Indian golfing ace, Chiranjeev Milkha Singh, was in Mysore recently as the brand ambassador for Skytop Golf Village, a brainchild of Skytop Builders Private Limited, Bangalore. He launched the Rs. 2,000-crore project that will come up in two phases on a 602-acre piece of land.

Jeev has plans to start an academy in the Golf Village. In an interview with Sportstar, the champion golfer spoke of his career and future plans.

Excerpts:

Question: Despite going through a personal tragedy, you showed tremendous will power and courage to compete in the Golf Nippon series JT Cup 2008 and win the title. What went on in your mind at that time?

Answer: I dedicate the victory to my wife, Kudrat, for being so strong and convincing me to go and play after the loss of our first child. It is very difficult to focus on the game, when your mind is on something else. I was not focused at all and just went through the motions on the first day. I started the final day in joint third place, and played a brilliant final round to emerge winner. The ‘Golfing Gods’ were with me.

How are you associated with the Skytop Golf Village project?

I am very much impressed with the vision of the Skytop Group to promote golf in this part of the country. I met Mr. Nagendra Prasad, the Managing Director of Skytop Builders, during the Indian Open in New Delhi and he explained to me his plans of promoting golf by starting a Golf Village in Mysore. I agreed to his plans and now it has become a reality.

Mysore is a small city and the golf village, which will come up in full steam in the next five years, will be accessible to every person from this city. If the facilities that would be available here are made use of purposefully, we may see champion golfers emerging from this small city too. I will be starting Jeev’s Academy for golfers in this Golf Village. The academy will be the best of its kind and will provide the best of professional training to golfers. I am the brand ambassador for Skytop Golf Village and I am excited to be associated with this fantastic project.

Being the son of the famous Olympian athlete, Milkha Singh, how did you take to golf instead of athletics?

It all depends on the support from the family. I have a very loving family who were very positive and supported me to the hilt when I started playing golf. My father was, and is a strict disciplinarian and I am indebted to him for what I am today. It has been a long journey in this wonderful sport, from my first professional win in 1993 to this day.

Which was your best win of the 2008 season?

Winning the title at the Singapore Open in the Sentosa Asian Tour from a very competitive field was very satisfying. I was five shots behind when the final round commenced and went on to win by one stroke, ahead of Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els.

Do you think more government support is needed for promoting golf in our country?

The government should encourage golf like all other sports and provide land for public driving ranges which will go a long way in promoting golf. Chandigarh, my home town, is blessed with an excellent facility. It has a public driving range and greens which help the golfers to practise well.

Mysore is a small centre and has been producing talented golfers. Small places can produce champions and the government should chip in and promote the sport.

What are your views on the golfing scene in our country, and how good are our junior golfers?

Golf is one of the fastest growing sports disciplines in our country. The golfing scene in the country has been seeing an upward movement since the last 10 years. Many golfers are making their mark in the international scene. Junior talent in the country is in abundance, and if they are guided properly and given the right professional training we may see many more champion golfers emerging from our country in the near future.

As a professional golfer, what are your future plans?

I will be working hard to maintain my good form and I hope that the Golfing Gods are with me in the season ahead. I have some more good golf left in me and will try my best to climb higher in the World rankings. I hope to sign off after winning a Major. Now I hope I can win a major.

JEEV’S ROLL OF HONOUR

EUROPEAN TOUR WINS

2006: Volvo China Open (co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour); Volvo Masters.

2008: Bank Austria Golf Open.

Asian Tour wins

1995: Philippine Classic; Asian Matchplay Championship.

1996: Philip Morris Asia Cup.

1999: Lexus International.

2006: Volvo China Open (co-sanctioned with the European Tour).

2008: Barclays Singapore Open.

JAPAN GOLF TOUR WINS

2006: Casio World Open; Golf Nippon Series

JT Cup.

2008: Nagashima Shigeo Invitational Sega Sammy Cup — Golf Nippon Series JT Cup.

OTHER WINS

1993: Southern Oklahoma State Open; Bukit Kaira Golf Championship (Malaysia).

1994: Shinhan Donghae Open (South Korea); Northern Indian Open.

1995: Thailand PGA Championship; Mahindra BPGC Open (India); Toyota Crown Open (Thailand).



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