Jeev Milkha Singh talks up Singapore hopes
India's top golfer Jeev Milkha Singh makes his debut at the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic on Thursday as he attempts to prove the adage that "life starts at 40".
The two-time Asian Tour No 1 is among the favourites at the $400 000 event at the Orchid Country Club, along with Order of Merit leader Jbe Kruger from South Africa and title holder Himmat Rai, also of India.
Local hopes Lam Chih Bing, Mardan Mamat and Lam Zhiqun are also expected to be in contention, along with Japanese stars Tetsuji Hiratsuka and Yuta Ikeda.
After watching countryman Digvijay Singh claim his maiden Asian Tour victory at the Panasonic Open India at the age of 40 on Sunday, Jeev Milkha, who turned 40 in December, believes he can still add to his haul of six Asian Tour wins.
His last success was back in 2008 at the Barclays Singapore Open.
"Singapore always gives me good feelings and positive vibes, especially with the way golfers think," said Jeev Milkha, Asia's No 1 in 2006 and 2008, was quoted as saying by the Asian Tour.
"We have a saying on Tour – new life starts at 40. I believe in that saying. It was fantastic to watch Digvijay winning. It gives us hope and I do feel I have many more years left."
Injuries have dogged Jeev Milkha throughout his career and last year was no different. With age and fatherhood, he says he has become a lot wiser in not pushing his body to the extreme and has also curtailed his tournament travels.
Like most top golfers, Jeev Milkha admits he would miss playing in this week's Masters, the year's first Major. He played at Augusta National for three straight years from 2007, when he was ranked in the world's top 50.
"In life, golf is like a roller coaster. You're up there and you're down there. It's all part of learning and it's a humbling game. You have to keep your head on your shoulders and you have to keep working," he said.
Kruger is confident of his chances of adding a second Asian Tour victory following his breakthrough at the Avantha Masters in India in February. He was runner-up in Singapore in 2010 and finished tied eighth last season.
"I'm feeling confident. I've been struggling a bit with my form but my game is coming back," the 25-year-old said.