Jeev arrives at the top of Asian Tour to win $300,000

Updated: Apr 30 2006, 05:52am hrs
I have always enjoyed covering golf, the feats of Indian golfers in particular, but rarely does one get an opportunity to write about great achievements, memorable moments and records that have been created by friends. Jeev Milkha Singhleading sportsman, good friend and above all, a wonderful human beingdeserved every bit of his victory at the European and Asian Tour co-sanctioned Volvo China Open.

One of the most humble sportsmen to play this game, Jeev has won supporters worldwide. While we could only follow his final round progress through a slightly delayed but live scoring on the Internet (thank God for it), the first person to call with news of his victory was my uncle. He had had been up since six in the morning watching the tournament live on television.

Back home his victory is still being savoured. All notice boards at the Chandigarh Golf Club proudly display newspaper cutting of Jeevs victory and the caddies are still discussing what kaka saab has achieved. For youngsters here, it is more motivating than Arjun Atwals first European Tour victory, for Jeev remained focused and determined through a seven-year title drought.

Yet for Jeev, it is just a demonstration of what he always believed was possible. Nicknamed the assassin on tour, he is hard on himself. No one would want to be in the way when he misses a putt that he thinks should have come to rest no where else, except at the bottom of the hole.

But the last seven years taught him how to be patient and just let things happen. It is not easy for a man who paved the way for Indian golfers. Jeev was the first player to win on the Asian Tour in 95 when Indians had just started venturing abroad.

Three more victories on the Asian Tour followed in quick succession, the fourth in 1999 at the Lexus International in Thailand. During this time he also earned his European Tour card, in 1997 and divided his time juggling between the Asian Tour, the European Tour and the Japanese Tour. The resulting fatigue and wrist injury warned him to slow down. However, his fellow professionals have always said that he is one golfer who will travel anywhere to play a golf tournament and that still holds true.

His victory has not only made him just the second Indian to win a European Tour title but has also earned him a two-year exemption to play the European Tour.

The winners cheque of US$300,000 placed him at the top of the Asian Tour Order of Merit and he has become the tenth player to join the million-dollar club on the Asian Tour with career total earnings of $1.06 million.

He now has the privilege to choose between tournaments on three tours. He will now divide his time playing the big events in Europe and Asia and spend the remaining time in Japan.

However, his desire to qualify for the PGA Tour still burns strong and he will aim to add that to his achievements by the end of the year.

As golfers we believe that every player has to pay his dues. He has to go through the grind to become an excellent player and a champion and I think Jeev has earned his laurels.

He started the year excellently and had seven second place finishes before this win. It was a sign that he was ready to join the winners circle again. And while I could continue to write how much he deserves this win and much more, I do have a word limit. So I guess, we will have to save the rest till his next victory, which let me assure you, is not too far behind.