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New Delhi, India: Asian Tour honorary member, Jeev Milkha Singh of India believes that golf in India is heading towards unprecedented growth as the Asian Tour’s season-opening event, Avantha Masters tees off on Thursday.

The 2011 Avantha Masters, staged at the magnificent DLF Golf and Country Club, will carry an increased prize fund of €1.8 million (approximately US$2.3 million) and is tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI).

Singh, who was Asia’s number one in 2006 and 2008, is confident that this week’s showpiece reflects well on the growth of the game in the country and paid tribute to the Avantha Group’s Chairman and CEO, Gautam Thapar, who is also a Board member on the Asian Tour, for his legendary vision in helping shape the sport to what it is in India today.

“I think it’s a very proud moment for golf in India. You just have to look at the amount of prize money that we are playing for this week to see how much the game has grown,” said Singh.

“I would like to thank Gautam Thapar for helping the sport grow in the country as this will definitely boost golf in India,” added Singh.

Although Singh has achieved much success globally, it is still a home win that has eluded him. Despite nursing a back injury, the 39-year-old opened his campaign impressively with a four-under-par 68.

“My iron-play was great today and I was feeling good on the putts. The course is in excellent shape but the conditions were a little tricky due to the wind,” said Singh who marked his card with six birdies, one eagle and two double-bogeys.

Singh, who is bidding to win his first title on home soil this week, will however be making the Avantha Masters his last event before taking time off to recuperate.

“I’ve played the last four weeks in the Middle East swing and this is my fifth week in a row. There is pain and I’m not 100% fit yet. However, I think I’m moving in the right direction and I’m doing a lot of yoga and physiotherapy to recover,” said Singh.

“I’m taking three weeks off after this and I think I should be ready in another month’s time,” said the six-time Asian Tour winner.

Photo - Asian Tour

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