As golf is going to be part of Olympics games after more than hundred years, ace golfer Jeev Milkha Singh has high hopes for the Indian players. He is hopeful that with two more wins by July, he will be able to qualify for the Olympics.
In an exclusive interview with theweek.in, Jeev talks about how his father Milkha Singh introduced him to golf, how the journey has been so far and what it takes to remain a sportsperson past the age of 40.
Golf is returning to the Olympics for the first time after 1904. What are India’s chances?
Two of our players, Anirban Lahiri and S.S.P Chawrasia, are playing very well right now. Both of them are good players. I think they are going to make India proud.
What about you? Have you got into the Olympics?
Till July, I’m going to have at least 10 tournaments. If I win at least two tournaments, I’m going to have a chance. I’m going to try.
Does it bother you that you are older than most of your competitors?
The challenges are obviously not the same. I’m 44 now. As you get older, your muscles start shrinking and the body becomes stiff. But I work on that. I do a lot of stretching to make sure the body remains flexible. I go to the gym, three to four times a week, anywhere in the world. When I’m at home, I work out every day for 45 minutes. I do a lot of rowing and weight training too to tone the muscles. Meditation and yoga are also a part of my routine.
How did you get into golf?
I got into Golf when I was about nine years old. I was introduced to the game by my father. He was gifted with a golf stick on one of his trips to England in the ‘70s. Back in Chandigarh, he took me to a golf course. Young kids my age were playing there. I got fascinated by the game and started playing. There were six of us. We used to push each other to get better. We would go to sub junior and junior tournaments together. Then we went for some international tournaments. That’s how I started. I had good competition and here I’m.
Chandigarh seems to be a beautiful, clean city. It has some great golf courses too. So one can imagine why you love to spend your holidays in your hometown.
Well, I am really fortunate that I was born in Chandigarh. Things are easily accessible here. When I was a kid, I used to cycle down to the golf course. It takes me hardly five minutes to get to the golf course. I go and practice in the CGA golf range run by the Chandigarh Golf Association. It has a good gym also. I go in the morning, come back for lunch, relax and then go back again. In big cities, you have to beat the traffic. I have no worries like that. I also love to spend time with my family, friends and my Labrador dogs Tiger and Goofy, with whom I play around a lot. I travel 35 weeks a year and so I think I deserve this kind of a break.
You went out of form in 2000 and then made a comeback. Did those setbacks make you a stronger player?
They did. That was an episode in my career which made me realise that it is important to mentally work on yourself to regain form. I spoke with a lot of mentalists then. I also read the book ‘The Power of the Subconscious Mind’ by Dr. Joseph Murphy. All these helped me believe in myself and get back on track. We all go through phases. That’s part of life. Take them in your stride and keep working. Things will fall in place. Sometimes it may take longer. But you got to hang in there.
How has your journey as a golfer been so far?
It has been amazing. The biggest wins of my career would be Scottish Open in 2012 and the Volvo Masters in 2006. I am a very fortunate human being-I’m making a living out of what I love doing. I still look forward to tournaments—I have already played 4 tournaments this year. I’m going to play 29 more before this year is over. Perhaps, later, I can sit at home, relax and lead a retired life. But I don’t want to do that.