Arnold Palmer Invitational
Article posted: 24 March 2009
The golf course is in excellent condition. I've never seen the greens that good. It's a golf course which requires everything, I think. It's a golf course of good test, and I think the way it's playing is fantastic, and I'm looking forward to this week.
This week Jeev competes in the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented By Mastercard at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Florida. Jeev plays with Rocco Mediate and Jeff Overton and they start on Thursday 26th March from the 1st tee at 12.43 local time.
Click here to see Jeev's scorecard. (Available from Thursday onwards)
The transcript of Jeev's pre-tournament press conference is below:
MARK STEVENS: We'd like to welcome Jeev Singh to the interview room. Last week he turned in his best finish on TOUR with a 4th place finish at the CA Championship. If you'd just start off and give some general comments about last week and your thoughts coming into this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Last week at the CA Championship I just felt that -- I really like that golf course, it suits my game, feels good, and finishing 4th gave me a lot of confidence. I made a lot of birdies that week. But the depth of the field I think made me feel good. And I think the main confidence builder was the PGA Championship last year, where I had my first Top 10, and I thought that after that I could have more Top 10s. Doral definitely build up on that. And coming into this week, last week was a week off. I played on Sunday. The golf course is in excellent condition. I've never seen the greens that good. It's a golf course which requires everything, I think. It's a golf course of good test, and I think the way it's playing is fantastic, and I'm looking forward to this week.
Q. Where did you go last week?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I went to New York for two days. I've traveled all over the U.S., to see my sister and then went to catch up with my college friends, teammates in Austin, Texas, played some golf with them, so it was fun.
Q. So on a week off you went and flew about 4,000 miles?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I flew New York, New York-Austin, Austin-Orlando, so I'm out here for ten days.
Q. How did you end up going to school in Abilene?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Abilene Christian, yes. It was because of Doug Sanders and his wife. I used to play their junior program, junior tournaments, and I won the Asian Division, and then I went and played the World, and I finished second in there. I asked Doug if I could get a scholarship, and they were nice enough, both of them, Scottie and Doug, to give me a scholarship at Abilene Christian, and I went there.
Q. How long had the golf program been up there in Abilene?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Abilene?
Q. Have they always had one?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Oh, yeah. I joined in '91, I think. I left in '93. I was there for two years.
Q. You won a national title, though?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yeah, I won the NCAA Division II.
Q. Anybody else from back in the day make it?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I don't remember. I don't remember now. I met a few guys a few years after that, and I don't see them anymore.
Q. You were raised in India, home in London, played Doral last week, you're going to Augusta next week. Of all the places you've been in the world, talk about what you saw in Abilene.
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Abilene was a shock for me when I got there. I said, "Oh, my God, where am I?" And I was homesick for basically three months, and I said, you know, I think I'm going to go back home. But I think things got better after that, and I loved it after that. I had a good coach, good teammates. We had fun. We were about 12 guys and we got along really well, so that made it easy, and after that I just loved it. I think the first three months anywhere you go are tough because it's a big change for you, and especially coming from India it was a change for me, and I think after that it became easier, and I loved it after that.
Q. What was the biggest shock, 100-degree heat?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Not the heat. It was just everything had to be done, you know, like you had to go to classes, you had to drive, I had to get a new car for myself. I had to buy that. That was tough. I had to do everything on my own, whereas in India your parents are there to help you out and do everything for you. But when you don't have that, it's tough. But I think it's part of learning, and I think it makes you realize and make you a bigger person.
Q. What about the landscape?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Landscape was -- it was dry heat, and plus it used to get cold, too, in the wintertime. So it was different, that's the way I would put it.
Q. How long were you there before you got to go back, the whole school year or Christmas or --
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I used to go back at Christmas and also for my summer break. Christmas was a short break. We had only 20, 22 days, and that was a tough one because I wanted to spend some more time there and the weather used to be nice in India. But I also wanted to go back because it's very tough getting those flights back to India. So I was fortunate enough to get flights and my parents could afford to get me back. I had to go New York, New York, Delhi, through London.
Q. It's tough getting flights to Abilene, too, isn't it?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes.
Q. What would you say is the single biggest turning point in your professional career, when you knew that you could make it in this game?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I thought when I won the Volvo Masters in 2006. I had won other tournaments, but winning a big tournament like that with the depth of the field, I thought that I could do something and I could play with the best, so might as well give it a go.
Q. How many times have you gone to Q-school here in the States? As I recall I think you were down at Bear Lakes maybe '01 I saw you down there? It seemed like you knew everybody. I know you've had cards on just about every Tour there is.
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I think I've been at least four to five times to Q-school here.
Q. What was your most recent one, become before you sewed up your -- before you had the good status on the European Tour?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: 2004 or 2003, I don't remember exactly, but somewhere in there. After that I said I might as well move in the top 50 and make the most out of it.
Q. How many different Tours have you had full status on? This is going to require you to search your memory banks.
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I know one year it was amazing. I had a Nationwide card, I had Australian Tour card, I had an Asian Tour card, I had a Japanese Tour card, and I had a European Tour card. And I played, I think -- the maximum I played is 45 weeks I played that year. It was shocking. I was tired.
Q. Did you wake up wondering where the hell you were?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yeah, that's the way it used to be. Oh, week off? Might as well fly to Europe. Nationwide? I might as well go to Canada, play there. Nationwide event? I'll go to the U.S. and play there.
Q. Have you ever counted how many countries you've played in?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Not really, I haven't. I haven't been to South America. The rest I think I've been to every other continent and most of the countries.
Q. Tour de las Americas I think would love to have you.
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I know. I'll have to get my membership there.
Q. After winning the Volvo Masters you had a great 2006. In 2007 was it tough for you, just high expectations from the year before?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yeah, I think I got more result-oriented than anything else, and I think that was the main reason that the performance wasn't up to the mark. You know, it's tough for a golfer to beat what he does every time. You usually can just hang in there and try your best, and that's what I was trying to do. Last year everything came together. Last year was a great year, and I personally feel that was the best year of my career so far.
Q. What about something like Presidents Cup? Is that on your --
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, that is on my mind.
Q. I don't know where you are in the points, but I'd guess you have to be on there somewhere.
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I haven't checked, but there's a long time to go. I think it's after the U.S. PGA, so you've got a lot of majors, four WGCs. It is on my mind. I would love to play The Presidents Cup, but I don't want to think too much about it, I just want to go out there and play and make the most of it.
Q. Was there a turning point before the turning point at Volvo Masters? What actually enabled you to win that tournament?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: In fact, the turning point would have been the Volvo China Open, the one that I won. I was very close and I wasn't able to finish it every time from 2001 until I think 2006. I was very close, I had a lot of seconds, and I just told myself, and I went down there at Volvo China, it's tough day out there, it's windy, you've lost so many anyway, so just try to follow your process and routine, don't get result-oriented, and it worked out well for me. And when I won after that, I think after that I just felt that I could do it and kept going, and I didn't push it too much, and things come to you then instead of you chasing it. It just came to you, and I think that's why I won so much.
Q. Just to follow up on that, where do you set your goals now? Presumably they have changed quite considerably from when we go back to 2006.
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, they have. I feel that I won on nearly every Tour in the world that I've played. I haven't won in the U.S. I would like to win here, too.
Q. If you had a great week this week, great week at the Masters, you're going to have a pretty healthy pile of money to apply on the Money List here. I'm guessing since you've gone to Q-school so many times that if the temporary membership came up you'd jump all over that and try to play here?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, I would take up membership here and would play here, too. But I would still want to be a global player. I would like to go play in Europe. I would like to play my minimum here, I think it's 16 events a year, 15 or 16, would play those for sure here and also play in Europe and a little bit in Japan and Asia. Still working on my air miles.
Q. I'm sure you've been asked this a million times, but especially when you get to the larger stages, Europe or when you come over here, are there any good, oh, he's the other Singh stories?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Oh, yeah, a lot of them. A lot of people say, that's his son. I'm like, you've got to look at my salt-and-pepper hair; I don't look like his son. Brother is very common, and the son one got me going.
Q. It could be worse, you could be Charlie Wi. They think he's the dad.
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I hear stories. All the time I hear it in the crowds when I walk.
Q. You played with him at the Masters last year?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes. I have a lot of respect for him, what he's done for the game, and when I'm around here I always go up and say hi to him, and sometimes we get a practice round together.
Q. How are the golf courses coming along over at Jumeirah?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: They're coming up well.
Q. Got a big tournament coming up at the end of the year?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yeah, the Race to Dubai. It's a tough one. It's a Greg Norman design, excellent layout. It should be ready by October. It's an excellent establishment, I must say. It's looking really good. I went out there during the Dubai Open week, and it's going to be fantastic. It's going to be a great event.
Q. Have you gone back to ACU? You're in the Hall of Fame there, right?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, I'm Hall of Fame. I haven't gone back there, but I will go one day for sure. I want to take my wife there. She hasn't been there, and I haven't been back to ACU for a long time.
Q. You kept in touch with your teammates obviously?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Oh, yes. They always pull my leg on a six-footer or five-footer I've got. Back in college we used to pull each other's legs quite a bit on those putts. You know how it is growing up. In fact it was good fun catching up with them last week.
Q. Did you go to any football games while you were there?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: No, we used to -- it was fantastic, our coach, the golf team used to take care of checking the IDs of the players, the students to come in, so we used to work for about two hours until the halftime, and we used to get paid like 20 bucks for working, and that used to be gas money for the week. So that was fantastic. I remember the whole golf team used to work, so I'd make some money on Saturdays. So that money used to go towards the gas, so that was fantastic.
Q. You used to sit at the gate and check IDs?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Check IDs, all of us, different guys. Okay, ready to go now, let's go. Coach, thanks for this money. That used to pay for the gas.
Q. You left after halftime?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yeah, because nobody came after halftime. We used to work for like three hours.
Q. You never once kind of went back into the stadium to see what kind of game they were playing?
JEEV MILKHA SINGH: No, we used to go, okay, it's time to go to the golf course now, or just go back.
MARK STEVENS: Thanks a lot, Jeev.
Transcript courtesy of ASAP Sports.