Indian Ace Jeev Upbeat Ahead of Omega Dubai Desert Classic

JEEV MILKHA SINGH

Celebrated Indian golfer Jeev Milkha Singh returns to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, imbued with a new sense of optimism as he makes his 17th appearance in the tournament at Emirates Golf Club later this month.

A four-time winner on the European Tour, Singh has endured a frustrating couple of seasons marred by a string of injuries since winning the Scottish Open in July 2012, but received a timely shot of confidence with a creditable showing in the inaugural DUBAi Open at The Els Club, Dubai, last month.

The Indian ace closed with a 68 to finish in a tie for 31st on six-over, but, more importantly, felt good about his game. "I can feel things turning around for me," said Singh who will join world number one Rory McIlroy, second-ranked Henrik Stenson and defending champion Stephen Gallacher among other big draws in the longest-running European Tour event in region, starting on January 29.

"The aim is to try and win the tournament. I know I am close, but when it comes to winning a tournament, it's not just about how you handle the pressure, but also about how you are feeling physically," said Singh, whose best performance in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic was sixth place in 2001, the year when he set a European Tour record of completing the four rounds in just 94 putts.

"I have won tournaments in different parts of the world, but winning in Dubai would be special," said the winner of 21 events worldwide. "Being an ambassador of golf in DUBAi, the tournament is very close to my heart. I have always felt very good being there. In fact, with so many friends in this city, I call Dubai a home away from home.

"It's a great honour to be part of the 'golf in DUBAi' team. They have done a tremendous job in raising the golfing profile of this brilliant city. They're lovely people and one of the main reasons why the tournament has become a must-play in the list of many players is because they look after us so well."

The 43-year-old Jeev, who celebrated his 43rd birthday in Dubai last December, added: "Injuries have taken a toll on my body, and the last two years have been especially bad. But the good thing is that I am close to getting healthy again."

"Commented Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAi: "Jeev has been an iconic figure on the Asian circuit, in particular, inspiring generation of young golfers to make their mark on the international circuit.

"We are delighted to welcome back a player who has been a great supporter of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and golf, in general, in this part of the world since he made his first appearance here in 1996.

"It speaks volumes of his determination that despite career-threatening injuries, he has never lost faith in his ability. If he stays injury free this, which I wish will be the case, he can turn the corner in his career. We are fortunate to have a such a likeable personality as one of our ambassadors who enjoys a tremendous fan-following."

The Omega Dubai Desert Classic is backed by OMEGA as the title sponsor and Emirates Global Aluminium PJSC as sponsor. The co-sponsors are: CNN, Drydocks World & Maritime World, Emirates NBD, Gulf News, Jebel Ali Resorts and Hotels, Mercedes and wasl, while Dubai Duty Free, Neocasa Interiors and Motivate Publishing are the Patrons in golf in DUBAi's drive to showcase the emirate's vibrant golfing scene to a worldwide audience.