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August 7, 2008

Jeev Milkha Singh


KELLY ELBIN: Jeev Milkha Singh in with an opening round of 2-under par 68 in the opening round of the 90th PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club. Jeev, congratulations on first round, some general thoughts about your play today.
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Thank you. Pretty excited about today's round. Started with a bogey, but I think I got a jump start on No. 2. I got a good bounce off the left side of the green to about five feet. Holed that for eagle.
After that, just kept plugging away and made a lot of up-and-downs and I think that my putting helped me quite a bit today. My short game was sharp. Didn't drive the ball that good, but any time you shoot under par in a Major Championship I think you got to take it and put it deep down in your pocket and I've done that today.
KELLY ELBIN: Can you go through the that eagle and as far as putts and length of putts and so forth and the birdies and bogeys.
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: First hole, chipped it to about 10 feet, missed it. That was a bogey.
Second hole, I hit a driver, 4-iron to five feet. For eagle. Holed that.
Then number 5, hit a driver, 7-iron to about nine feet, holed that.
Number 7, hit it in the rough, had to just, I laid it up and got it on the green, 2-putted for bogey from 20 feet.
Number 10, driver, no, sorry, 3-wood, 9-iron to about 50 feet. 3-putted.
Number 15, I hit a 5-wood, 7-iron to about a foot and a half. Holed that for birdie.
Number 17, hit a 3-iron to 20 feet, holed that for birdie.
KELLY ELBIN: Very good. Open it up for questions, please.

Q. Kind of a two part question. First of all, did it play easier at all today than -- a lot of people were thinking that maybe even par would lead. And second of all, you've been nursing an injury for awhile now, have you been able to take any time off to let it heal or is it still bothering you?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Answering your first question, I think the golf course played tougher than the practice rounds. Especially I personally felt that the greens got quicker today and firmer. And the pin positions were tougher than the practice rounds. But I think it's an excellent golf course. It's a great test of golf and patience.
Getting back to your second question, I had been suffering with a little tendon running through the ankle on my right foot. It's got a lot of pain. I've been wearing a brace for the last four weeks. I did injure it just before the French Open, that was about seven, eight weeks ago. I've been getting a lot of physio done and it gets better, but you hit one of those shots out of the rough and I'm back to square one.
I haven't played any practice rounds for the last seven weeks in the tournaments I've played and it's worked for me pretty good, touch wood. I won twice, once in Europe, the Austrian Open and two weeks ago in Japan. Basically I got a MRI done three weeks ago, the doctor said I need four weeks off and the caution I put up to him was, "Well does two weeks help?" And he said no. And he said there's a lot of fluid and that means a lot of inflammation in there.
Then I decided if I'm going to play the PGA Championship I'm going to push myself through to this week and next week and after that I'm going to I'm surely taking two weeks off, maybe I'm going to extend it to four. So it depends how the ankle holds up. It feels fine, but the more drivers I hit, I feel it just kind of comes back. And you do need to hit a lot of drivers on this golf course.

Q. You said that you had not played practice rounds before your other tournaments, did you limit your practice rounds here and did you hit any shots out of the rough today that bothered your ankle?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, I just played nine holes on Tuesday and nine yesterday. But would obviously like to practice more, but I can't. I like to hit, obviously, a lot more drivers on the driving range. But I think my pain always comes back when I hit a lot of drivers. I don't know, one of those tendons, the way I move my foot, the right foot, it gets me going. And I can't put any weight on the right foot.
But what was the other question?

Q. You had talked earlier about getting in the rough and if it hurt you out of the rough. Did you have problems with that?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, I did hit it in the rough, but I was hitting some irons out of that and I wasn't trying to push it too much I was just trying to lay up, just get it to the front of the green. And it held up fine, my ankle did. And I got a brace and that's helping me quite a bit too.

Q. With Tiger winning with a bad knee and Padraig Harrington winning with an injured wrist, what is going on with this, beware of the injured golfer? I mean is it something that it just takes your mind off everything else, just enough, so you're able to perform?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Not really. You still want to give it your best and you are trying. But the only thing is that you've got the pain and you are trying a hundred percent, but you can't give it a hundred percent sometimes, especially when it starts hurting. And your focus goes on the pain then, worrying about hey, I need to make this putt to get this done. Maybe it helps that way, focuses on the pain more than when you get to the crunch putt that, oh, I need to hole this putt and I don't want to make a double or make a bogey. You know, I mean you just follow the process and routine and you make the putt for par or birdie.

Q. You said you had won twice in the last six weeks?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Seven weeks. I won the Austrian Open, and I won in Japan two weeks ago.

Q. And all of that has been with a bad ankle?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, it has been and I've been I think fortunate, I've been playing well and that's why I'm pushing myself through this week and next week.

Q. Have you had such a good stretch before even a hundred percent healthy?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, in 2006 I had a good go there and I've had 18 top-10s that year and four wins worldwide.

Q. More than most of the players in this field learning golf courses, getting, developing knowledge of these golf courses, it's more of an obstacle for you in terms of background, the opportunity to have played here, is there a way to put a stroke value on the disadvantage that you face with lack of local knowledge as compared to people that have played here in the past? And when you try to learn a Major Championship golf course, given the setups, what's the most critical thing you need to learn right away?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I think that the most important thing to learn on a Major Championship is to stay patient. Because they are going to test your patience because the pin positions, you're going to get some bad breaks, you're going to hit some shots in the rough, and you sometimes you can't get it out, sometimes you can. I think the key is to stay patient. You've got to, if you hit a bad shot, you got it take your medicine. You just try to get it to the front of the green or at a place where you can hit a shot in there so that you can get it to about 10 to 15 feet and you're making a putt for par. You try to push yourself, you try to get greedy, it turns out to be a double or a bogey or a bigger number than that.
Getting back to your first question, if it does help playing the Major Championship before, it does for sure, you have knowledge where to hit it on certain pin positions. Sometimes you, when the wind is up you got to hold back, you got to hit 3-woods off the tee instead of a driver. And but for me, I feel that it works out pretty good for me, what I see is what I get. And I try to make the most out of it.

Q. I apologize if this has already been asked, but tomorrow night the Olympic games begin in Beijing and it's that time of year, I am wondering if it makes you think at all about your father the flying Sikh and what he did in 1960 in Rome and do you follow the Olympics every four years because of that legacy?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, I do follow the Olympics and I love watching 200 and 400 sprints because dad used to do that. I think my father feels worse than what I do because he lost the gold, but he's done a lot for the sport in our country and I think coming from a sporting background it's helped me being involved in the sport and that's why I am a professional golfer and I'm fortunate my parents pushed me in the right direction.
KELLY ELBIN: Jeev, can you provide just a little more background on your father, did he win the silver medal that year?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: No, he broke the world record, he finished fourth and that year he was, he had the best timing and I think he made a big mistake, he looked in the race and he checked himself, he thought that he was going too fast and he wouldn't be able to finish and he finished fourth and all four of them broke the world record that raise. And he was supposed to win the gold because he had won the Commonwealth Games, the Asian Games that year and he had the best timing for 400 meters. I think it was a management error by him.

Q. What couple shots or holes do you think were the key pivotal ones for you today?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I think the jump start came on No. 2. I got a good break there. It's a tough pin, it's right over the slope and I pitched it on the left side of the green, just over the bunker and I got a perfect bounce and it went over the slope and ended up five feet. That was one of the holes.
Then coming in, last four holes were playing tough and I played them 2-under par. I think that made the difference. I hit on the 15th, I hit my 7-iron to a foot and a half. That was against wind, it was a tough shot.
Then on number 17 my 3-iron to stop the ball on that green when there's a lot of breeze from behind, that was good.
And the last hole I think I played the best. I hit a driver, 3-iron to about five feet for birdie. And I didn't make that, but making a par on that hole every day I think I'll take it.

Q. Obviously y'all look nothing alike, but do people come up and kind of mistake you for Vijay or maybe Vijay's son or something? You know, different things like that and did anything strange like that happen out there today? Vijay having been a Major champion before and all.
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: No, nothing like that happened. But in the practice rounds I can hear a lot of people say, "Oh, I think he's Vijay's son or he's Vijay's brother." I heard that many times.

Q. Did you have a good come back?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I just say I'm the other Singh.

Q. Two questions, the first one is about your ankle. And that is, did the hills at all, the walking up-and-down bother that; and then the second one is about your name, Singh. Can you explain to me crazily enough my cab driver's last name was Singh who brought me to the hotel and he said that it's a very common name where he was from. And he said it's a lot of people's middle names and so I didn't -- could you explain that for us.
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Going to your first question, obviously the ankle does hurt at certain positions because it's a hilly golf course and especially the slopes. But I try to watch that whenever I'm walking. And it hurts more when I'm hitting the driver because at a certain position when I twist my right foot that's when the pain really comes.
Getting to your second question, yes, there are millions of Singhs in India and like you have Smiths and Jones in the U. S. we have got millions of Singhs and everybody is not related.
KELLY ELBIN: Jeev Milkha Singh in with 2-under par 68 at the PGA Championship. Thank you.

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