By Joy Chakravarty
Dubai, July 24 | Jeev Milkha Singh, the most accomplished golfer in the history of Indian golf and also the most successful on Japanese soil with four titles, has some words of advice for his compatriots who will be representing the country at the ongoing Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The 49-year-old, who rose to No.28 in the world rankings which is the highest ever by an Indian professional, was nominated by the Indian Golf Union (IGU) to travel with the team as their manager/coach, but had to decline at the last moment because of personal reasons.
Singh lost his father, the legendary athlete Milkha Singh, and mother in the space of five days last month.
The Indian men’s team comprises Anirban Lahiri and Udayan Mane and they be in action next week at the Kasumigaseki Country Club.
While only Aditi Ashok has qualified for the women’s competition, which starts later, Lahiri and Mane reached Tokyo on Saturday.
Not only did Jeev Milkha Singh win four tournaments on the highly competitive Japan Golf Tour, he also led the tournament when the exclusive golf course in Saitama held the Japan Open in 2006.
If not for a double and a triple bogey on two of the par-5s in Saturday’s third round, Jeev Milkha Singh would have finished inside the top-three. He was tied 21st that week.
Speaking exclusively to IANS, Jeev Milkha Singh said: “I was so looking forward to be with the team during the Olympics. I thought my experience of playing regularly in Japan for more than 10 years, would have come very handy for the team. However, with my parents passing away last month, I have got a lot of things to do in Chandigarh.
“Growing up with my father, one of my biggest regrets is that I could not take part in Olympics. I think I have only two career regrets – not representing India in Olympics, and not winning a major championship. If I had somehow played a small role in helping the team do well, it would have meant a lot to me personally.
“I wish Aditi, Anirban and Udayan all the best. They are all terrific golfers and we all know how differently the adrenaline functions when you are representing your country. The Tricolour can do amazing things and I know they can contend for the title. Rankings may not be on their side, but all they need is belief in their own abilities. They are all proven champions.”
Jeev Milkha Singh, who shot a 65 in the opening round of the 2006 Japan Open when it was played at Kasumigaseki Country Club (it was the joint lowest round of the whole tournament), said he remembered there was a lot of rough on the golf course and lightning-fast greens when he played there.
“It was the Japan Open, which has extremely tough golf course set-up. I think it would be similar conditions for the Olympics. The greens would be around 11-12 on the stimpmeter. And it will be warm and very humid in Japan at this time of the year. My biggest advice to the team would be to stay hydrated – have lots of electrol and amino acids,” said Jeev Milkha Singh, who is planning to become the first Indian to play on the Seniors Tour next year once he turns 50 later this year.
“I’d recommend the players to spend a lot of time figuring out the greens and what’s around it. That will definitely be the key to doing well during the competition.”
The men’s competition will be played over four rounds of individual strokeplay, starting July 29.