Ace Indian golfer Jeev Milkha Singh has revealed one of the biggest decisions of his sporting career that involved a phone call to his parents in the early 1990s.
Jeev was introduced to the game of golf at the age of nine by his father and later earned a golf scholarship in America after representing the Indian national team.
Playing for the golf team at Abilene Christian University in the US, he, however, felt the call of the professional game but needed clearance from family back in Chandigarh.
“Had to make a big call; picked up the phone and spoke to my parents,” Jeev, who turned 49 on Tuesday, was quoted as saying by asiantour.com
“My dad said: ‘You know what, please go ahead, but don’t come back to me after five or 10 years and tell me you want to do something else’. They obviously gave me the right guidance,” he said.
The move was a wise one by Jeev as his father, Milkha Singh, was arguably India’s greatest sprinter and his mother, Nirmal Kaur, was a former captain of the Indian women’s volleyball team.
“Actually we wanted to make him a doctor,” said Milkha. “He said: ‘No, I want to play golf’. (I said) if you want to play golf then you have to work day and night. I want to see you number one in the world!” he added.
Jeev turned professional in 1993 and never looked back. “My inspiration growing up was my father. Lots of people in India said: ‘you come from the Milkha family, you have a lot of pressure’,” said Jeev.
While the young Jeev didn’t quite reach that target, he more than justified his decision to turn professional by winning the Asian Tour Order of Merit title twice, clinching five titles on the Asian Tour, and four on both the European Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation.
“Everybody asked me: ‘hey, do you guys play golf in India?’ I said: ‘yes we do’, and they said: ‘oh, we didn’t know that’. And I said, you know what, let’s show them that there are good golfers out of India,” added Jeev.
“But if I played in Italy I needed an Italian visa, or Spain a Spanish visa. And in France I needed one there. Some weeks I had to miss because I couldn’t get a visa in time. But nothing comes easy, you have to take it in your stride.”
He suffered a loss of form mid-way through his career but bounced back by winning the Volvo China Open in 2006. “I had a fantastic start but then a dip for five or six years. In those five, six years I learned a lot,” said Jeev.
“I was going through a bad patch. I had not won a tournament from 2000 to 2006, so six years of drought. Golf is a game very close to human life because you go through the ups and downs. One week you are the best and the next you don’t even make the cut. “Took the plunge in 1993 and loved it ever since!”