Im not at the level of Sachin Tandulkar, the great cricket star, he said while practice putting in preparation for Doral. But golfs the fastest growing sport in India.
His fame may be growing, but he jokes that hes not even the most renowned athlete in his own family. Jeevs dad, Milka, ran 400 meters in The Olympic Games of 1960 and 64.
He broke the world record in Rome, Jeev said with obvious pride. But he didnt win a medal because three other guys also broke the mark. My dad made the mistake of looking back.
Milka settled in Chanigargh, north of New Delhi, to raise a family, Jeev following his father to the local golf club. He competed in the old Doug Sanders Junior Series in Asia, and eventually displayed enough talent to warrant a call from the colorful Sanders himself.
He suggested I come to Texas to play college golf, Jeev recalled. So Jeev enrolled at Abeliene Christian, alma mater to Byron Nelson. There, Jeev won the Division II NCAA Championship in 1993 before turning pro. His coach at Abeliene Christian was Vince Jarrett, now leading The University of Houston.
Jeev started his professional journey on The Asian Tour but wouldnt break through on the world scene until 2006. He won the Volvo Masters at Valderamma, the season-ending event on The European Tour.
I hit a 6-iron to 12 feet on the par-5 17th to set up a birdie, he recounted. The fans were screaming for me as I came up to the green and that was a big thrill.
In holding off Sergio Garcia and Padraig Harrington for the victory, Jeev secured a five- year exemption to The European Tour.
But he wasnt finished. Late last year, he went on to win the Volvo China Open, The Casio World Open in Japan and The Japan Series Tour Championship. Hes now exempt not only in Europe, but in Japan and on The Asian Tour as well.
Why the turnaround after not having won for six years?
I was too focused on winning, he explained. I put too much emphasis on results and not the process and routine.
Jeev started 2006 367th in the world and finished 37th.
Thirty-six and single, he has his sights set on America, where hell have played a dozen events by years end, including all four majors and three WGC tournaments.
Hes one of three emerging golfers from India along with Joti Randhawa and Arjun Atwal.
Atwal, by the way will, return to competition next week either at Houston or on The Nationwide Tour. The investigation into the car crash in Orlando in which the 48-year- old driver of another car was killed is still ongoing. To deflect the certain media scrutiny, Atwal will use his manager as his caddie.
Singh has no such problems. He was awarded Indias highest civilian honor, The Padma Shree, the same award his father received some 40 years ago.
Its like being knighted, Jeev said, breaking into an easy smile.
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