Jeev Milkha Singh is arguably India’s greatest ever golfer - in terms of achievement he certainly is. Son of the legendary athlete Milkha Singh, Jeev is a very unconventional golfer. His swing to begin with is anything but straight out of the coaching manual, but it is highly effective and has won him events on every major Tour world-wide. Jeev first qualified to play the Asian Tour in 1995, accepting the challenge of being the ‘standard-bearer’ for Indian golf like the champion he is by registering victories at the 1995 Philippine Classic, the 1995 Asian Matchplay Championship and the 1996 Philip Morris Asia Cup.
Jeev continued to champion India’s golfing credentials - from a team perspective, he led India to a stunning victory over Scotland in the Dunhill Cup at St Andrews; as the leading Indian professional, he strung together a number of impressive performances including second place finishes at the1995 Passport Open in Korea, the 1997 Asia Pacific Ericsson Masters in Indonesia, the 1998 Hero Honda Masters, the 1998 Thailand Open, the 1999 South African Open and the 2001 Iiyama Cup.
In 1997, Jeev became the first Indian golfer to qualify for the European Tour. After five largely unsuccessful years on the European Tour, he turned his attention to the Asian and Japanese Tours. In 2002, Jeev earned an entry into the prestigious US Open at Bethpage Black, making the cut to become the first ever Indian to achieve this feat in a Major championship. At the US PGA Tour Qualifying School finals later that year, Jeev just missed on securing his PGA Tour card, courtesy of a final round 77.
By 2005, Jeev had become a regular on the Japanese Tour and came close to winning his first Japanese Tour title at the Okinawa Open. Despite enjoying a four shot lead going into the final round, Jeev had to settle for a share of second place after being caught by Kiyoshi Miyazato.
Jeev’s real golfing breakthrough came in 2006 – starting with a fantastic victory at the Volvo China Open, he followed that up with a win at the Volvo Masters, the European Tour's season-ending event before returning to the Japanese Tour for back-to-back wins in the Casio World Open and the Golf Nippon Series JT Cup. On the Asian Tour, Jeev became the third Indian to win the Order of Merit title with then record earnings of US$591,884. Jeev also posted a further 15 top-10s on the Asian, Japan and European Tours and made another appearance at the US Open in Winged Foot where he made the cut yet again. Jeev Milkha Singh was named the Johnnie Walker Asian Player of the Year for 2006.
Jeev played most of the 2007 season in Europe and the United States, where he played his first ever Masters – indeed the first ever time an Indian had played the prestigious event. Leading the field at one point, Jeev made the cut to eventually finish tied 37th. He also played and made the cut in the 2007 US Open. 2007 also saw him chosen to represent Asia in the inaugural Royal Trophy and being awarded the Padma Shri from the Indian Government for Services to Sport, to go with the earlier Arjuna Awardee award he had received.
2008 was yet another great year for Jeev Milkha Singh. The year began with second place finishes at the Indonesian Open and the Ballantines Championship in Korea where he lost in a play-off; results got even better with wins at the Bank Austria Golf Open on the European Tour and the Sega Sammy Cup in Japan. Then came a win at the prestigious Barclays Singapore Open where Jeev got the better of golfers of the caliber of Major winners Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els. The Singapore win helped Jeev to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit title for a second year and to become the first man in Asian golf history to win over US$1 million during a season, his final tally being just short of US$1.5m.
Jeev played his second Masters in 2008, making the cut for the second time running and ending the week in a tie for 25th place. He also became the first Indian to play in the four Major championships in a single season by playing in the 2008 US PGA Championship. He finished ninth in the US PGA Championship to record the best ever finish by an Indian in one of golf’s Majors. Jeev registered a further win on the Japanese Tour at the Nippon Series JT Cup to end the year at 35th place in the Official World Golf Rankings, 12th on the European Tour Order of Merit and be named Johnnie Walker’s Asian Player of the Year again.
2009 was a relatively quiet year by his own high standards with large parts of it ‘wasted’ due to niggling injuries. The real highlights were a 4th place finish at the World Golf Championships in Florida and back to back top 10 finishes at the European Open and Celtic Manor Wales Open European Tour events. Making his third appearance at the Augusta Masters, Jeev was drawn to play with none other than Tiger Woods. He actually out-drove Tiger on most holes but unfortunately this did not translate to good scoring and he failed to make the cut for the first time ever in a Major. The year ended on a relative high point with his qualification for The Race to Dubai Championship and a creditable 13th position.
The beginning of 2010 has seen Jeev once again playing in the colours of the Asian team at the Royal Trophy, unfortunately finishing on the losing side for the second time. Close on the back of that defeat though, Jeev has had good reason to smile off course as he became a father for the first time - his wife, Kudrat, giving birth to a little boy at the end of January. Unfortunately the ‘new dad’ could not christen the event with victory at the Dubai Desert Classic, but a share of 15th place sets him up for the year ahead.