| Jeev Milkha Singh |
Lytham St Annes: Fresh from his triumph at the Scottish Open, India’s Jeev Milkha Singh will lead the Asian challenge along with Thai Thongchai Jaidee — winner of the Wales Open — in the British Open here on Thursday.
Two wins in two months by two Asians — Jeev and Jaidee — have suddenly brought Asian golfers into focus at the world stage.
Over the years, Korea’s KJ Choi and Y E Yang were seen as the best Asian bets at a Major, but now both Jeev and Jaidee can pull off something big at any time.
It will also be the first time ever that two Indians will tee off at the Open after 25-year-old Anirban Lahiri won a place by topping the International Final Qualifying — Asia. Incidentally, Lahiri will participate in his first Major.
Jeev, whose only top-10 finish in a Major has been tied ninth at the PGA Championship in 2008, is not putting any undue pressure on himself.
“I like golf in tough and testing conditions. Wind, cold and even rain makes golf, particularly Links Golf, a real challenge and I actually love it, even though many find it taxing and even frustrating,” said Jeev.
“I love links golf. A lot of feel and imagination is required. I enjoy every bit of it and I’m looking forward to this week,” he said.
Three years ago, the 40-year-old had to pull off just before the start of The Open at Turnberry because of an injury but Jeev says he is ready this time.
“I’m excited to be back here. After what happened (in 2009), I’m fitter and I’m ready. It just couldn’t be better winning a tournament and coming into the Open championship,” Jeev said.
“The course is looking superb. It is in great shape, just the way an Open course is expected to be. The key is to avoid the bunkers of which there are 206, and the rough is most unforgiving.
“I am treating this as another week. That’s why I’ve just showed up on Tuesday which I normally do and take it from there,” he added.
Lahiri said Jeev’s victory has motivated him to do well.
“Jeev’s win is great for the Asian Tour and fantastic for India. With Thongchai winning as well in Wales last month, it goes to show that our players can win in Europe and it’s a good thing. It certainly inspires me,” said Lahiri.
Apart from winning The Open, Jeev has one more goal — he has to get back to the top-50 of the world.
Lahiri, a great believer and proponent of meditation, said: “My meditation helps me stay in the moment and not get carried away and focus on what I need to do. It’ll play a critical role. I rely on meditation as it’ll only do me good.”