BANGKOK, December 21 : New Asian number one Jeev Milkha Singh believes he can now win a Major title which will enable him to 'sit at the same table with my father'.
The Indian star wrapped up his campaign at the season-ending Volvo Masters of Asia on Sunday to be officially crowned the 2008 Asian Tour's Order of Merit champion and immediately set out his next goal which is to challenge for one of the four most prized trophies in world golf.
"This has been the best year so far in my career. In 2006, I also had four wins but I rate this season better due to my performances in the Majors. It has given me a lot of confidence and I'm more comfortable and confident when I'm under pressure. I know my swing is better and that has taken me further up in my game," said Singh, who shot rounds of 76, 70, 70 and 72 to finish in the middle of the field at Thai Country Club.
The 37-year-old made history by becoming the first player to win over US$1 million in a single season on the Asian Tour, thanks largely to his stunning triumph over a world-class field at the Barclays Singapore Open last month.
He registered two other runner-up finishes in Indonesia and Korea in a stellar season which also saw him triumph once in Europe and twice in Japan to rise to his current career-high 36th place in the Official World Golf Ranking. In addition, he finished tied 25th at the US Masters and posted a career-first top-10 in a Major by finishing equal ninth at the US PGA Championship.
"Winning the Order of Merit twice in three years is special. It has given me a lot of confidence as I've proven myself again and you then try to move on to bigger things," said jEEV, who was also the region's top player in 2006.
"I think I've got the game to win a Major. I feel it all depends on the mindset that week and how you deal with the pressure. A lot of it comes down to the short game. I feel I do have the game and hopefully before my golfing career is over, I will have a Major under my belt," said Jeev.
The son of the legendary runner Milkha Singh, who is a decorated Olympic runner for India, Jeev said that despite his golfing achievements over the past three seasons, he still feels he has yet to measure up to his father's iconic status.
"Dad is still a bigger name than I in India," said Jeev with a smile. "A Major under my belt, then I can sit at the same table as him.
"Coming from a sporting family (his mother was also the captain of the national volleyball team), my father always emphasised discipline, work ethic and honesty. I've had positive feedback from my parents and that has helped get me to where I am today. My wife Kudrat has also been very supportive."
Jeev plans to scale down his playing schedule in 2009 after competing in over 35 events each season around the globe, so much so that he should inherit his father's nickname as the "Flying Sikh".
As the saying partly goes, there will be no rest for the wickedly talented as Jeev has already engaged a physical trainer to start work with him next week as part of his plan to challenge for Major honours.
"I need to get fit in 2009. I've had a lot of injuries. I have put on weight as I normally run a mile a day but I've been unable to do so with my ankle injury since June. I have people in place starting on December 28 who will train me and help get me fit. My main goal over the next six months is to get fit," said Jeev.
He also looked back at his career which started in Asia way back in 1995 and was proud to see the Asian Tour grow to record levels where this season, an unprecedented 30 events with an all-time high US$39 million was on offer to the region's talented players.
"The Asian Tour has given me a lot. That's the main reason I'm here this week, to also receive the Order of Merit award and give back to the Asian Tour for what it has done in my career," said Jeev Milkha.