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Indian Major winner in 5 years: Jeev

Gaganjeet Bhullar (from left), Oliver Wilson, Jeev Milkha Singh, Mithun Perera, Anirban Lahiri
and Digvijay Singh with the Panasonic Open trophy, at the Delhi Golf Club, on Wednesday. (AFP)

New Delhi: The first Indian golfer to play in the prestigious Augusta Masters, Jeev Milkha Singh believes the country will have its maiden Major winner in the next five years.

With Indian golfers making rapid strides on the Asian, European and the PGA Tour, Jeev, the first from the country to break into the world top-50, feels the day is not far when an Indian triumphs at one of the four Majors.

“The first thing is to break into the top-50 because that’s what you need to play in a Major. We have got a lot of talent in the country and I am sure one of the guys will do that. The first two-three Majors will give you the experience and after that you can aim for a win,” he said at the pre-tournament press conference of the Panasonic Open India starting here on Thursday.

“May be in the next five years, we are going to have an Indian winner at the Majors. Our players have the game,” the veteran golfer said.

Jeev, who teed up at the Masters in 2007 and was at the top of the leaderboard on the opening day, recalled his own experience.

“I always dreamt of playing Masters and I was fortunate to do that. I enjoyed my time there. The Masters is my favourite Major because of the atmosphere, which is fantastic. It’s the only Major which is played on the same course every year,” he said.

“You have got to be mentally strong to play in a Major. Right now, I want to get back into the top-50,” he added.

Jeev’s opinion was echoed by rising star Gaganjeet Bhullar.

“It is just a matter of time. The more opportunities we get, the better the stats would be every year. The first target is to be in top-50. It's not easy at the Majors though, because the courses are difficult and the scoring is also difficult,” he explained.

Jeev, who is returning to the Delhi Golf Course after five years, and Bhullar will be the cynosure when they tee up along with some top Indian and Asian golfers on Thursday.

“Competition is very good and I am looking forward to a good week. I have played well in the Panasonic Open in Japan and hoping to do well here also. I have never won at the Delhi Golf Club and I want to get this monkey off my back,” Jeev said.

Also competing at the third edition of the Asian Tour event would be Bhullar, who made a fine start to the season by finishing second in the European Tour’s Avantha Masters.

“Having cracked inside the top-100 (in the world rankings) has given me a lot of confidence. The way I am striking the ball, victory is coming very soon,” said the Kapurthala-lad.

“I had a great start to the season. Last season was also good for me and it has given me a lot of confidence,” he added. Joining them would be inaugural champion Anirban Lahiri and the defending champion Digvijay Singh.

“It’s always nice to come back to a course where you have done well. I was quite fortunate to win here. I am looking forward to a solid week of game,” said Lahiri. (agencies)