Jeev Milkha Singh, undoubtedly the best golfer that India has ever has produced, has played at the highest level of professional golfer, the PGA tour and the first Indian golfer to become a part of the European Tour. Jeev, who is the highest ranked Indian golfer, was the first Indian to feature in the coveted Masters and at one point of time had five playing privileges. Honoured with the prestigious Padma Shri and two times Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, Jeev has been a great ambassador to the game and has taken made Indian golf recognised world-wide.
In an interview with Samikshan Dutta Choudhury of Indian Sports News, Jeev speaks about his plans, PGTI and Olympics. Excerpts:
ISN: You did not seem to have a good season last year. So what is going to be your plans for the upcoming season?
Jeev Milkha: This is a brand new year for me. Last year it was a slow year for me and my aim would be to change in my thinking mentally. I would want to repeat my 2008 performance and move back into top 100 and eventually into top 50. And I would be concentrating more on Europe and co-sanctioned events in Asia.
ISN: What actually went wrong for you in the last year?
Jeev Milkha: Actually I wasn’t that fit last year and was constantly batting with my back problem and other injuries. But then this year I have hired a personal trainer and he gave me four exercises, which I am following religiously. I am right now on three weeks off before I hit a course and undergo the training. I would also cut down on the number of tournaments I play and try to keep myself as fit as possible, because I personally think if one is physically fit only then can he remain mentally fit.
ISN: Having played at the highest level of professional level, how does it feel like coming back to India and playing with the guys out here?
Jeev Milkha: Trust me Indian golf has improved immensely and the playing field is immensely tough. Players like Anirban Lahiri, Himmat Rai, Gaganjeet Bhullar are top class players and can play anywhere and can beat anyone.
ISN: What do you think about India’s prospect at the 2016 Olympics?
Jeev Milkha: We have an excellent chance. First we need to qualify and there are formalities. Even I would like to play, but that depends on whether I qualify or not. Olympics is a very straightforward format and a matter of a week. So if a player clicks that week, then he can surely run away with it.
ISN: Considering the global financial meltdown, how much do you think would golf be affected by it in the country?
Jeev Milkha: With the way the economy is going, it is going to be a tough year for golf. Hopefully all the big events will get the sponsors. In India, top CEOs play golf so it shouldn't be that big a problem here but still it's going to be tough.
ISN: There is a huge row debate going over as to who should be awarded the Bharat Ratna. Who according to you should be given the award, Sachin Tendulkar or Major Dhyanchand?
Jeev Milkha: I think anyone who has done well for the country should be given the award. Anyone who has excelled in their respective fields -- be it a sports person, doctor or media person should get a Bharat Ratna. If there are more than two or three people deserving it, then it should go to all of them. There has to be proper criteria though for picking the awardee. This is my personal opinion.
ISN: Are you playing any part in the movie Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, which is being picturised on your father?
Jeev Milkha: I am more of a watcher and you can call me a movie buff. I would not be playing any role in it, but had an interaction with the team. The guys on board are awesome and I have immense respect for Rakesh Omprakash Mehra.