14 years ago, Jeev Milkha Singh was at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, to play the 2007 Masters Tournament. Amongst other criteria, Jeev had finished the previous calendar year 39th in the World Golf Rankings, enough to qualify for his favourite Major. It was also the first instance of an Indian teeing it up at the famed Green Jacket tournament.
He would also go on to play the tournament three times in succession between 2007-2009. For Jeev, this was the culmination of a childhood dream. Looking ahead to the 2021 edition, thegolfinghub caught up with Jeev from his home in Chandigarh to relive his memories at the Masters.
During the 1970s and 80s, there was no telecast of the tournament in India. Folks would wait for someone to get a video cassette from abroad so they could watch highlights in full a month later.
The young golfer barely into his teens would watch how golfers tackled the Georgian course. Later he would try the same shots at the Chandigarh Golf Club in anticipation of playing the tournament one day.
For anyone in the knowhow, a trip to Augusta can be overwhelming for a rookie. Jeev talks about pacing oneself throughout the week. The build-up to the tournament begins in January, as golfers try to schedule their starts to culminate with form in April at Augusta.
He also has an interesting point about conditions during the tournament week. Every year conditions at Augusta can vary. Calling on years of worldly experience as a professional on various tours helps when standing over specific shots on the golf course. Throughout the conversation, Jeev reiterates the importance of getting accustomed to the greens.
He also looks back fondly at the opportunity to tee it up with Tiger Woods at the 2009 edition, despite missing the cut by a solitary shot. Also joining them was Stewart Cink, who would go on to win the Open Championship in the same year.
On the lighter side, Jeev talks about tackling winds at the 12th hole when his caddy made him back off one year. Off the golf course, all the restaurants lining Washington Road are packed during Masters Week. There is after all, much more to simply showing up and playing golf!
Looking ahead to this year’s edition, Jeev says anyone in the current generation of golfers is good enough to win the tournament. He hopes that the club considers hosting a Senior Event where in his words, they could play from the forward tees, and on the usual lightning-fast greens.