Incheon, Korea: India’s Jeev Milkha Singh returned to nostalgic grounds, hoping to revive his winning memories of the Shinhan Donghae Open which starts on Thursday.
Singh won his first professional tournament at the Shinhan Donghae Open in 1994 and has since gone on to establish himself as one of Asia’s most decorated player, winning six times on the Asian Tour and multiple times in Japan and Europe.
Singh, who was also Asia’s number one in 2006 and 2008, will be up against a strong field that features some of the region’s best players including Korea’s Sangmoon Bae, compatriot and defending champion Gaganjeet Bhullar, Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant and Malaysia’s Gavin Green, who is currently fifth on the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
Green is confident of mounting a strong challenge when the 33rd edition of the Korean showpiece gets underway at the Bear’s Best Cheongna Golf Club.
The Malaysian’s bold assessment of his chances is backed by a stellar season where he has enjoyed three top-10 results, including two runner-up finishes in India and Chinese Taipei.
The 23-year-old believes he can continue riding on his rich vein of form and make a strong push for his entry into the winner’s circle on the Asian Tour.
Thaworn is meanwhile happy to be back on the Asian Tour after spending much of his time playing on the Senior Tour in Europe this year.
The 50-year-old holds the most Asian Tour victories with 18 titles and is looking to add to his tally with another grandstand finish this week.
Did you know?
- The Shinhan Donghae Open was Singh’s first professional victory since he turned professional in 1993.
- That victory jump-started his career where his other significant milestones included being conferred an honorary Asian Tour membership in 2009.
- Singh became the first man in Asian golf history to win over US$1 million during a season, eventually earning US$1.45 million which stands as a Tour record.
- Green holds the record of being the first amateur to win on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) following his victory at the PGM Vascory Templer Park Championship in 2014.
- Green turned professional in 2015 and has won three ADT titles.
- Green was ranked 12th in the world amateur rankings before he joined the professional ranks.
- Green finished second on the 2016 ADT Order of Merit to earn his playing rights on the premier Asian Tour for the 2017 season.
- Thaworn sealed his place in Asian Tour history by becoming the oldest Order of Merit champion at the age of 45 years and 354 days in 2012 following three victories in Thailand, Malaysia and India that year.
- Thaworn became the first player to hit 400 Asian Tour appearances in 2015.
Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind)
A lot has changed since I won this event in 1994. The prize money has changed and the standard of golf is better. When I came here in 1994, it was such an important event for me. The win changed my career. I turned professional in 1993 and when you just turn pro, you don’t have too much money and you’re just trying to make ends meet. No sponsors want to touch you. I came out here, won this event which changed my life. I became more comfortable after my win as I started doing well in more tournaments. I became more comfortable going into different tournaments. Otherwise you got to think twice about whether I can go and play in that country or not. Do I have the funds to travel? I remembered I got eighty thousand dollars after that win and it was such a big thing for me which jump-started my career. I’ll forever be indebted to a sponsor like Shinhan Donghae. It was a turning point in my career and I can never forget that.
Gavin Green (Mas)
I’m hoping for a solid week again. I’ll try to play good again and see what happens. It has been a solid season and I hope to keep my good form going. There are still a lot of players chasing me in the Order of Merit and there’s still a lot to play for. I’ll try to do the best I can in every event that I compete in. My main goal at the start of the season was to keep my card. Obviously I’ve done that and my goal has now changed. World ranking is going to be a huge one for me and climbing up the money list is also going to be a big goal for me. Those are my two main goals right now. I would probably give myself seven out of 10 in my report card for the first half of the season. I’ve gained a lot of valuable experience the first six months and hopefully the second half of this season will be even better.
Thaworn Wiratchant (Tha)
I’ve been playing on the Senior Tour in Europe since I turned 50. It was a new experience for me as the playing conditions are very different. The yardages of the golf courses are also shorter for old men like us (laughs) and I’ve been learning to adapt to these new playing experiences. But it’s always nice to come back and play on the Asian Tour where I’m more familiar with the conditions. Hopefully, I can win again.