Augusta, Georgia, April 11: India’s Jeev Milkha Singh began the Masters Tournament with a solid one-under-par 71 at Augusta National on Thursday. Singh is currently tied 11th as he trails the leaders, England’s Justin Rose and South African Trevor Immelman.The Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) member was especially delighted with his par on the opening par four, 455-yard hole.“Oh yes,” beamed Singh when asked if he was delighted with his start. “I drove the ball really well and hit it at the right places. I made a few mistakes but I think you’re allowed a few on this course. I’m pretty pleased with my round. I birdied all the par fives and had a few chances. The greens are tough and you can’t be too aggressive out there. I left a few short but I’m happy with one under par.
Jeev made birdies on the second, seventh, 13th and 15th and dropped bogeys on the fourth, ninth and 14th.“It’s the best score in five rounds for me here at Augusta National. Under par on this course is always good. I’ll try to do the same tomorrow and maintain my process and routine.”
The tenacious Singh, three shots off the early first round lead, was staring at a bogey but drained a 12-foot putt for par on the opening hole to launch his campaign on a strong note.
“It was a good par. I holed a 12 foot putt so that got me going,” said Singh, who outscored playing partners, reigning British Open champion Padraig Harrington and 2003 Masters winner Mike Weir by three and two shots respectively.
With the course drying out after a one-hour fog delay, Singh said he was always cautious on the devilish greens. “The course was playing different from the practice rounds. The greens were quicker and firmer but we’d expected that. The course is in excellent condition,” said Singh.
Singh said that when he received the Masters invitation in January, it gave him a huge confidence boost which resulted in two runner-up finishes in Indonesia and Korea.
“When you get invited to one of the best Majors in the world, you get a jump start. I am happy to be here and I did play well after getting the invite. Things fell into place and I had two seconds, which I should have won. But I’m here now and that’s in the past and I aim to make the most from this,” he said. Sweden’s Daniel Chopra who spent his formative years in India shot even par 72 to be tied 19th.