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May 29, 2009

Jeev Milkha Singh


RODDY WILLIAMS: Jeev, thanks very much for coming in and joining us, and, well, well done on a tough day out there, and you finished the day with a share of the lead. You must be quite pleased sitting in here now.
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, I am. It was quite tough in the breeze. I think it was quite tough to judge the right club, and especially the distance on the back nine, especially on the breeze coming left-to-right and right-to-left.
But I'm fortunate. I had a great chip-in on No. 17. Wrong club off the tee but I got away with a birdie. That's a bonus.
18 was playing really tough. Hit a bad drive but got around the green, didn't make up-and-down, but I'm still happy with a 69. I think 69 in these conditions, I take any day.
RODDY WILLIAMS: And thoughts looking into the next two days?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Honestly, I'm just going to go out there and just try to follow my process and routine and see what comes my way. And that's when I play my best golf and that's what I'm going to try to do.

Q. The chip shot, the lie?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I got a good break there. The lie wasn't too bad, but out of the rough, you don't know how the ball is going to come out. Honestly, it just came out too hot for me and would have gone at least ten feet by the hole.
Luckily there was a flag there. So hit the flag and went in the hole.

Q. There's been a lot of big names that have missed the cut today, and if you look on the leaderboard, your name is probably the most recognisable and regular winner does that give you confidence when you work around that and don't see guys that have previously beaten you?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Not really. Basically when you are playing and the wind comes to you, basically you just try to stay in the present. You don't look at what else is happening. But you just try to focus on your own game, and you try to give your best and make some good putts, and the win comes your way then.

Q. How many shots tougher do you think the course is playing today compared to yesterday?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I think easily four to five shots tougher.
I think yesterday, even par would have been 70; today, I think even par is close to 74, 75.

Q. Did you expect to be as successful as you are when you turned professional?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes. When I turned pro, I had a great outing. I played really well. I won -- out of the first fours tournament, I won twice. I thought it's really easy, but after that, I realised; how much long I didn't win for, six years, and thought this game is the toughest game possible.
But I just hung in there and learned a lot and came back in 2006. That gave me a lot of confidence. I think Volvo Masters win made me believe that I can play against the best, and win, also. I think after that, things have been good.

Q. Just about the course, what part of your game do you think this course tests the most?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I think it's the wind; that is the toughest thing on this golf course right now, and also putting. Basically most of the drives are at an angle to the fairway, so if the wind is left-to-right, you want to start it at the rough and make sure the ball falls in the fairway, otherwise it's going to roll into the rough.
And picking up the right lines off the tee, and also, you know, you've got to roll the putter well, especially in the breeze. Because when the gust of wind comes, you can't have a smooth stroke, and you're just hoping that from your side that you are making a good roll at it.

Q. Having won the Volvo Masters and then being the first Indian to play in the Masters, what are your goals for 2009, having achieved that much, and are you now starting to be recognised a lot at home in India?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: My goals for 2009 are that I won on most of the tours, I won in Asia, I won in Japan, I won in Europe. I would like to win on the U.S. Tour, also. That's one of the goals, because I haven't won there.
Coming back to the last question, I obviously have done well coming out of India, and I think golf is the fastest-growing sport in our country today. Hopefully in the future, I think there's a lot of potential and there's going to be a lot of players coming up.

Q. Are you recognised in India?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Not as much as the cricketers. Cricket is still the No. 1 sport in our country.
But I'm getting there, hopefully; a major under my belt will get me there. Maybe not; maybe close. (Laughing).

Q. But you're no longer just your father's son?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Oh, still, I am. My dad is much better known than I am, honestly. Whenever we walk, he always jokes with me, especially at the airports or train stations, most of the guys will come and take an autograph from him. He will say, "This is my son, Jeev. He plays golf." He jokes with me all the time. He is still very well known, and he's better known than I am, for sure.

Q. You can never wear John Daly's trousers, is that what you're saying?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: No, I could. I could. I could. (Laughing) I like his trousers. I was pretty impressed. I like the way he dressed up the last two days.

Q. So is there a good system getting younger, less-privileged children into playing golf in India?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, in fact, hopefully, you know, our government has a big say in everything. Golf not being an Olympic sport, we have not been getting any funding from the government. The only funding we get is basically for tournaments like the Asian Games or the Eisenhower Cup. And also, IGTA, Indian golf gets a little bit of funding from them.
Hopefully in October, it becomes an Olympic sport. Hopefully it does. I think what happens after that is the government is going to allocate I think at least land in each and every city to have a public driving range, so that a normal human being or a public person can go there and try a hand at it, and that's when it's going to really hit big in our country.

Q. So he that's very, very important.
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes that, is very important, and that's the only way this game is going to get famous and going to get close to cricket is when we have more public driving ranges in our country.

Q. Without the Olympic thing, that just would not happen?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: No, it's not. I have on my own, I'm doing some academies with some private builders, but that's only private.
But to have a public driving range, I don't think there's a public driving range in our country. There's only one public golf course in our country right now. Everything is private.

Q. Where is that one?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: That's in Delhi. And hopefully, I'm hoping in the near future; we have a lot of driving ranges, but they are private. Hopefully with this golf being recognised an as an Olympic sport, I think it will be the best thing to happen for India.

Q. But you see if that happens, that really being more your heritage eventually than actually individual tournaments and titles?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, I think that would be the best thing to happen for golf in our country, more public driving ranges, because obviously you guys know, our population is more than a billion. I'm sure there's going to be a lot of talent out there.

Q. Do you know how many people play?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I think close to about half a million.

Q. Would you want to see a situation like, I'm told they have in Japan, where there are millions of players and none of them ever get to a golf course.
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: In India I think they will make sure I think, because I think it all starts from your house and I think mind-sets of the parents have changed in India now. They look at our guys, not only me, but Jyoti, Shiv, and say, these kids have done it. Why not our kids? Our kids can do it, too. They are encouraging them.
I go to some driving ranges and some pros are having camps. I used to see a hundred guys, but now there are a thousand youngsters trying their hand at it. And the parents are involved and they are right there waiting for them.
So there is a lot of interest, and mind-set has changed, because in India, the emphasis is a lot on education. And now if a kid, if he's not doing that well in education, he says, I want to love the game of golf and I want to try and the parent are encouraging the kids.

Q. The parents would get them into private golf clubs?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, private golf clubs, or if somebody is -- obviously a public driving range is open, they will say, go ahead, try a hand at it, anybody.
I remember there were a lot of good players when I was growing up who just didn't take it up, and they were very good. They just went back to the parents' business, and said we are going to do this, we don't know what's going to happen.

Q. Obviously cricket is the No. 1 in India by a long, long, long way, but do you see a kind of -- there is a energy, didn't there, between the two games, between cricket and golf, do you feel that yourself?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, for sure, there is. I think golf is right now, after cricket, that's the only sport in our country. And obviously there's some good tennis players, also, but golf, the way the youngsters are coming up and us guys doing well, not only me, but the other players, also, I think it's growing big.

Q. Does your father talk to you a lot about what he went through growing up in the family situation?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, in fact, he always emphasises on discipline. I still remember his words, discipline, hard work, and be honest in your practice. You just don't want to go there and hit 500 balls and just keep talking. He says, just be honest to yourself. These are the three things I've heard since I've been growing up; I've heard it too many times.

Q. But he's seen some pretty horrific things in his life.
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, he has, and I think he's gone through his share of tough times. He came out from a very poor family, and during the Partition between India and Pakistan, his parents died and after that he was just on his own, and his brother got him into the army, and he won most of the races in the army and then one of the generals said that, you know, you should try to do something and get status in running. Try the Asian Games and the Olympics, and that's how he got going, and after that, he got involved.

Q. Are you saying your grandparents died in that conflict?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, they did.

Q. Terrible time.
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, I think the Partition took place in 1947.
RODDY WILLIAMS: Jeev, thank you very much for your time.

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