“I thought I would never play golf again,” arguably India’s greatest ever golfer, Jeev Milkha Singh, told The AU Times in an exclusive chat from Narita, Japan. He said he didn’t think he would play the sport again after losing both of his parents – Milkha Singh and Nirmal Saini – to COVID-19 in a short time last year. Jeev also believes that this is India’s golden age in golf and the current lot can do wonders for India.
Question: You became the first Indian player to qualify for the Senior Majors… What does this mean for Indian Golf?
Jeev Milkha Singh: I think golf is the only game that gives you a second chance at age 50. If you play golf consistently for a long time and win good tournaments, you may have a shot at playing the senior major tournament. I feel lucky to have this chance to play again. I will do my best to win titles again for my country and for my parents.
Question: With Aditi Ashok, Aniraban Lahiri and players like you, golf seems to be in the news in recent years more often than ever? Do you think this is the best time for Indian golf?
Jeev Milkha Singh: Of course, you are right. I would say this is the golden age of Indian golf. Our youth have immense potential and talent. In particular, players like Aditi Ashok and Anirban Lahiri can win the title at any level.
Question: So far, India has only won 3 gold medals and 3 silver medals in golf in the last Asian Games? What do you expect from Indian holfers in the upcoming Asiad (Hangzhou, China September 10-September 25, 2022)?
Jeev Milkha Singh: This time there is a change in the rules of Asian games. This time, two professional and two amateur players were allowed to play in the team. In this scenario, India has a very good chance of performing at the top level. Asian golfers are very good. So there would be stiff competition. But I think India can win Asian Games gold through golf this time.
Question: Aditi and players like Anirban openly say they performed despite the system? Do you think there is some sort of communication gap between Golf and the so-called sports system or the Ministry of Sports?
Jeev Milkha Singh: It’s true. There is definitely some sort of communication gap. I think India has huge potential in this game. The government should create more driving ranges and golf courses for ordinary people to play this game. With over 1 billion people in this country, who knows how many champions we can produce.
Question: Are you coming back after your parents died? If Milkha Singh had been alive, he would have been proud of you.
Jeev Milkha Singh: Yes, after both my parents died within five days of Covid, I thought I would never play this game again. But after six months and this opportunity to play Senior Major, I thought I shouldn’t play for myself. I decided to play for my parents and for my country. I want to make my country and my parents proud again.
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