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Jeev heads a strong Indian challenge

Rakesh Rao
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Jeev Milkha Singh.— PHOTO: AFP
Jeev Milkha Singh.— PHOTO: AFP

The tree-lined course at the Delhi Golf Club remains one tricky puzzle that Jeev Milkha Singh is yet to solve as a professional golfer.

To break the hoodoo, the 41-year-old is back at the venue after a gap of five years. The last time Jeev played here, in the 2008 Indian Open, he walked away with $49,300, for finishing fourth.

This time, Jeev is eyeing the winner’s cheque in the $300,000 Panasonic Open golf championship that tees off on Thursday. For someone yet to win a dollar-event in the country, Jeev is optimistically looking at the week ahead.

“Coming into this event, I’ve had some good rounds. Due to Tuesday’s rains, the greens have become a bit softer.

“So I believe we will see some low scores this week. I put the winning score at 18 to 20-under. I want to win here and get the monkey off my back,” he said on Wednesday.

Good challenge

Jeev is aware of the challengers this week. Defending champion Digvijay Singh is in good form.

Three-time winner in Asian Tour events here, the 2011 champion Anirban Lahiri, last month’s Avantha Masters’ runner-up Gaganjeet Bhullar and two-time winner on the European Tour S.S.P. Chowrasia are among the seasoned campaigners in the fray.

Digvijay, whose breakthrough win on the Tour came last year in the championship, feels that it is all about getting into the rhythm. “For me, it is all about staying in the rhythm. When playing on this course, one has to keep his ego and driver in the hotel room. At the most, I will use the driver only on the 10th hole here. Any golfer who tries to hit too long here faces the danger of calling up his travel agent to advance his departure,” said the defending champion.

The top three finishers here will be extended invitations to the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Openin Osaka, Japan in September.

Meanwhile, property developer Homestead has offered a Rs. 3.5-crore apartment, at Gurgaon, to the first player who shoots a hole-in-one on the 17t{+h}hole in the final round on Sunday.

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