Milkha Singh takes Asian plaudits
Indian tees off in Thailand before picking up second Asian Tour order of merit.
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2008 06:04 GMT

Singh of the swingers [GALLO/GETTY]
India's Jeev Milkha Singh will cap a year of physical and mental anguish when he formally claims the Asian Tour order of merit for a second time this weekend.

The 37-year-old son of Milkha, India's most famous track athlete, Singh enjoyed a brilliant 2008.

He clinched four titles across three tours to match his effort two years ago and lift him to 36th in the world rankings.

Among them was a tense one-shot triumph at last month's Singapore Open where he pushed major winners Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els into second.


Regarded as a pioneer among Indian professionals, Singh won his third European tour title at the Austrian Open and proved his consistency with eight top-10 placings to finish 12th on the European order of merit.

The other two victories came on the Japanese Tour, including this month's season-ending JT Cup in Tokyo where he overcame personal grief after his wife Kudrat delivered a stillborn baby.

Singh, whose ranking assures him entry into all four majors in 2009, kept up a punishing playing schedule despite an ankle injury which troubled him for a good part of the season.

"This is the best season of my career," Singh said in his hometown Chandigarh on Wednesday.

"Performance-wise 2008 is better because I did better in a major championship."

Lots of dollars

Singh finished tied ninth at the US PGA Championship in August and his Singapore Open win virtually sealed the order of merit after he became the first Asian tour player to earn more than $1million in prize money in a single season.

"Going head to head with major winners like Harrington and Els was special," he said.

Daddy Singh at the Olympic torch relay for Athens in 2004 [GALLO/GETTY]
"I rank the Volvo Masters (European tour, 2006) and the Singapore Open wins as my best."

Singh, whose earnings in Asia top $1.4million, will receive the order of merit award at the Volvo Masters of Asia in Thailand.

He decided to skip the South African Open, his sponsor's event, to play in Thailand and pick up the award at a dinner on Sunday.

Singh, who went seven years without a win and overcame a major wrist injury before his 2006 turnaround, attributes his superb season to improving his swing with compatriot Amritinder Singh.

Confidence game

"It is just a question of confidence," he said.

"I'm trusting my swing now, so I don't hesitate. I'm more comfortable on the course playing at any level.

"I worked on the basics, my posture, takeaway and finish."

Singh has set himself ambitious goals for 2009, winning a major and breaking into the world's top 20.

"If I have a top 10 in a major championship, next year I feel I'm going to do much better than that."

Singh wants to become a "global player" featuring on all major tours but plans to trim his workload in 2009 to stay injury-free.

"I need to slow down, play around 35 tournaments a year," he said.

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