Calcutta: It was a case of so near yet so far for Indian ace golfer Jeev Milkha Singh. Onto the last round of the US PGA Tours qualifying school, Jeev faltered at La Quinta, California, when he returned a card of five-over 77 at the treacherous Stadium Course.
Jeev thus missed on the opportunity to create history by becoming the first Indian to qualify for the lucrative US PGA Tour. However, he did become the first Indian to gain a full exemption on the second-rung Nationwide Tour, which replaces the buy.com Tour in the coming season, according to information reaching here.
Jeev, tied for 31st place in the penultimate round, was close enough to be able to slip through the portals to the best and richest of golfing Tours in the world. But his faltering last round finally saw him tied for the 73rd place at three-under 429 after six rounds.
More than 4000 players started the Q-School and only 170 made it to the final stage in what is universally regarded as the toughest golf tournament in the world. The top-35 and ties were to get their PGA Tour card, and 38 players got in at eight-under 424.
The next 48 received full exemption on the Nationwide Tour (the one that Jeev earned), and those after that got some exemptions on the same Tour.
Jeev dropped five strokes in last five holes, making double bogeys on the 15th and 18th and a bogey on the 14th. Starting the day at eight-under, all he needed was to play a par round. But he did not have a good start and made bogeys on the second and third holes.
“Those bogies put a lot of pressure on me. Thereafter, I started trying too much. It was a make or break effort in the last few holes and I had to go for the maximum. I am extremely disappointed with the way I finished after playing so well the first five days,” said the 30-year-old over phone.