Dogs, scrabble and family keep Singh in the right spirits

Published on March 25, 2020

By V.Krishnaswamy, @Swinging_Swamy

New Delhi, March 25: Indian golf legend, Jeev Milkha Singh has seen some tough days in his golfing career.

A series of runner-up finishes, loss of form, injury and so on. Yet, he has always stayed positive. He has always managed to find something to get by the tough days.

It is the same right now as the whole country is being advised to stay indoors in the times of COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is like a test, this time not just for me or golfers, but the whole country and mankind. We need to be disciplined, stay indoors and keep safe. That will help everyone stay safe,” said Jeev while elaborating on the risks of the virus.

“The doctors say this virus spreads from person to person, so we need to practice Social Distancing and stay indoors. I am taking this (staying indoors) also in my stride. This is not in our control,” said Jeev.  “Maybe this is a time to bond with my family, parents (Olympic legend Milkha Singh and Nirmal Milkha Singh) and kids. It also gives me quality time with my parents.”

He is however not allowing the break to halt his fitness routines. “I am doing Yoga, some swing drills, etc but all indoors.”

Jeev and his wife, Kudrat, have a couple of dogs, too. “They are amazing. They just love the fact that I am at home and all of us around with them.”

His son, Harjai, is also being made to participate in scrabble games. Jeev laughs and adds, “The dogs, too, want to play. So they often get on top of the scrabble box and seem to ask if they can join in. It is great fun inside the house, even though things are grim outside.”

Jeev, who has been decorated with the Padma Shri and the Arjuna Award, would love nothing more than going to an Olympic Games, which has now been postponed for a year.

He said: “My father did so well (came fourth in 400m) in 1960, and I wish I could go too, but my current form does not give me a chance. But hopefully if I can find my form soon – though the game seems fine on the range – who knows what can happen.”

He added: “The tough times have even led to postponement of Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, my favourite country, where I spent about six to seven years playing on Japan Tour.”

Back in 2006, Jeev was in a situation, where he had not won on any international Tour since 1999. Then he ended the drought at the Volvo China Open and went on to win four times, including twice on Japan Tour.

He ended the year as Asian Tour number one and that saw him become the first Indian to tee up at the Augusta National Golf Club for the 2007 Masters.

Two years later in 2008, he did the same again – won four times including twice in Japan. And again he won the Asian Tour Order of Merit and is the only Indian to claim that honours twice.

“If there is one thing I learnt from my Dad, it was to never give up. That stays with me. And yes, in golf, one can play for as long as you wish. My Dad, now in his 80s, still plays regularly and is fit as a fiddle,” added Singh proudly.

Finally, he said form his home in Chandigarh: “My goal is to get to the Champions Tour.” That will be when  he turns 50 and that will happen in about 18 months. “I need to stay fit, physically and mentally. There is still lots of golf to come.”