After his Scottish Open win on Sunday,Jeev Milkha Singh became the most successful Indian golfer on the European Tour,with four titles to his credit. In the process,he also secured a last-minute berth in the British Open. The golfer emerged triumphant at Inverness,despite starting the final day on tied-16th. In the chat with The Indian Express,Jeev talks about his 15-foot birdie putt,his preparations for the Open and why he prefers to reside in London. Excerpts:
After Round 3,lying so far away from the leaders,did you give yourself a chance at the title?
* I did. I backed myself. I had been playing well in the first three rounds in the recent tournaments and all I wanted to do was to play a good round of golf on Sunday. Its a great feeling to win in Scotland,the home of golf.
Among your European wins,where does this one rank?
* I have won four tournaments on the European Tour but nothing comes close to this win. With players such as world No.1 Luke Donald playing,it means all the more. It was a links course,so I had to constantly use my imagination and hit low golf balls. The conditions were also a bit windy,but in the end,I managed to score one of the most important wins of my career.
What was going through your mind before you sank that 15-foot putt on the last hole? Having lost a playoff in 2008 to Graeme McDowell,did you feel any extra pressure?
* I just thought that the golfing gods are by my side. Its tough to play in playoffs as we do not play them normally. I had memories of losing to McDowell and I was just thinking about the win. Its been four years since I won a big tournament and I believed that I could do that. The birdie came at the right time for me. I havent slept since. People have constantly been calling me from India,and in the morning,dad also told me that even he got calls from all over the world.
Even before you can catch your breath,you will be playing in the British Open starting Thursday,for only the second time. Are you prepared for the Open?
* When I came to Scotland to play the one I won,I would be lying if I say that I had not thought about the Open. In 2007,I made the cut. But this time,on the back of this win,I want to do even better. I have been playing well in Europe with a seventh-place finish in Scandinavian Open last week,and I would say that my form is peaking just in time.
What will be your strategy at Royal Lytham & St. Annes?
* I will concentrate hard,thats for sure. The conditions will once again be a bit windy and I will be tackling the course in the evening. I have been working on my swing lately,which should help. My friend and coach Amritinder Singh is here with me and my caddie Jan Squire too knows these conditions very well.
You are back among the top-100 (87),but earlier,you were ranked as high as 29th in the world. How important are these rankings to a golfer?
* Being in the top-50 has always its own advantages. One gets automatic qualification for most of the championships,and thats my aim for the coming year. The key would be to play in as many tournaments as I can. I turned 40 last year and I have to stick to my schedule. Mid-way in my career,I did play mostly in Asia but I have to strike out the balance. Thats why Ive got myself a home,here in London.