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Singapore: Indian golf legend Jeev Milkha Singh plans to return to the winner’s enclosure
at this week’s ISPS Handa Singapore Classic and prove there are many good golfing
years left in his illustrious career.
Singh, a two-time Asian Tour number one, makes his debut in the US$400,000 event
at the Orchid Country Club starting on Thursday where he is amongst the top favourites.
The ISPS Handa Singapore Classic has attracted over 40 other Tour champions with
an accumulated 100 victories, including current Order of Merit leader Jbe Kruger of
South Africa, title holder Himmat Rai of India, Singapore’s Lam Chih Bing, Mardan Mamat
and Lam Zhiqun and 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, Singh, who turned 40 last December,
believes he can still add to his haul of six Asian Tour victories despite his last success
being the 2008 Barclays Singapore Open.
“Singapore always gives me good feelings and positive vibes, especially with
the way golfers think,” said Singh, Asia’s number one in 2006 and 2008.
“It’s great feeling and I’m excited to be back. I’m fit. I’m feeling better with my game. I
t’s been a slow start (to the season) but I’m looking forward to this week. 
“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 and I’m going to do much better (than 2006 and 2008
where he won four times each year).
I have a lot of golf left in me. I’ve felt the best in the last four years. That’s why
I’m making the statement that I’m looking forward to my years ahead. I feel I can
play till the age of 50.” Injuries have often bogged Singh down throughout his
career and last year was no different.
With age and fatherhood, he has become a lot wiser in not pushing his body
to the extreme and has also curtailed his tournament travels. “It’s taken me a
long time (to get fit). I’m feeling good. I’ve got my distance back. It makes a lot
of difference when a human being is feeling good about himself. Mentally, you’re
thinking well and you trust yourself under pressure too,” said Singh.
“It’s great to see I can pull off shots and get the right distances with the driver.
It’s going to be a good week,” he added. Like most top golfers, Singh admits he
would miss the Masters Tournament, 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 rollercoaster. 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.
I’ve had three great years at the Masters and I’ve not been there the last two or
three years. I would like to be back there, that’s my goal, to be back in the world’s
top-50 in the future.
I feel it’s all part of learning. You have to keep trying and learning,” said Singh.
Kruger is confident of his chances of adding a second Asian Tour victory
following his breakthrough at the Avantha Masters in India in February.
The lightweight South African was runner-up here 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. I’m excited. I love this golf course.
I picked this tournament as I like it here and I like Singapore. It’s a good place
to get form back,” said Kruger. One of the best ball-strikers in the game,
Krugersaid the challenging Orchird course suits his game well.
“The greens are very good. You have to hit the fairways here and that’s what I’ve been
doing the last couple of years. I’ve come close a couple of times,” said the 25-year-old.
Local hope Lam Chih Bing hopes the arrival of his second child, a girl, six weeks
ago will lead him to a second Asian Tour victory but is worried that he may not be fully fit.
“I think I caught a bug in India. I’m feeling weak and have a stuffed nose. Not ideal
but hopefully I‘ll be okay by Thursday. But there’s been cases of sick golfers
playing good,” said Lam.
“It’s been a while, winning in 2008. It feels like a long time ago. For some reason,
I’ve been struggling a bit. In 2008, my boy was born and three months later, I won my first tournament.
I’ve just had a little girl a month and a half ago, so I’m hoping it will be the same.”
With Orchid being his home course, he knows he has every chance of doing
well at the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic.
“I know the course well. So there are no excuses. I’m working hard and I think
it’s around the corner. Ball striking wise, it’s very close. It’s a matter of getting
the putts to drop and putting four solid rounds together,” said Lam.

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