Jeev Milkha Singh ‘liberated’ after returning to golf course

Golfers returned to the course after months but under strict restrictions that limited their interaction.

By Subhayan Dutta ·

Veteran Indian golfer Jeev Milkha Singh finally got to swing his club after two months as the Chandigarh Golf Club opened its gates following the central government’s select relaxations amid a nationwide lockdown.

Calling it the “day one of liberation”, the four-time European Tour winner was excited to get back to normal life.

"I am really glad, this was something different,” Jeev Milkha Singh told the Press Trust of India.

“I am excited to be back on the golf course after two months. I thank God that I was able to play the game I love playing, which has given me recognition, chance to represent my country," the 48-year-old added.

The golfers came out on to the course in protective gear and sanitised their hands and clubs regularly every few holes.

Another golf course that opened up on Wednesday was in Delhi, where Shiv Kapur teed off amid many other Indian golfers.

However, the precautionary measures - like playing with masks on, maintaining social distance and not being allowed to touch the flag or the ball among others - led Shiv Kapur to term his return as a “walking on eggshells” kind of experience.

“There is a fear of doing anything wrong,” Shiv Kapur told the Hindustan Times.

“Like it or not, it’s pretty much get-on-and-off-the-course with people no more sitting around (over food and drinks) chatting before and after a round.

“There’s a sense of eeriness as if one is playing an altogether new sport,” he added.

US Open qualifiers cancelled

While both Jeev Milkha Singh and Shiv Kapur celebrated their return to the golf course, the two also rued the cancellation of the qualifiers for the US Open, which has been shifted from June to September.

The US Open has seen numerous Indian golfers over the years coming through the famed qualifiers, which has more than 10, 000 players competing for the Major.

Jeev Milkha Singh, who has played the US Open tour five times with two direct exemptions in 2007 and 2009, considered it to be the toughest Major.

“For me, the toughest Major is the US Open, though the Masters was always a dream, like it is for any golfer,” Jeev Milkha Singh told PTI.

“The qualifiers for the US Open are tougher than most events and it takes a lot out of you. I am proud of the three times I came through that route and twice by an exemption,” he added.

Shiv Kapur, who made it to the US Open tour twice in 2014 and 2015 - both times through the qualifiers – loves the challenge of the qualifiers and lamented missing out on it this time.

“What a pity, there will be no qualifiers this time,” Shiv Kapur said. “But I suppose there was no choice. For me, the qualifiers have meant a lot.”