Soon after the prize distribution function of The Milkha Junior Golf Challenge in Chandigarh got over on Wednesday, junior golfers approached Jeev Milkha Singh and his father former athlete Milkha Singh for autographs as his eight-year-old son Harjai observes them from a distance.
Harjai, who finished third in the boys' nine years' category in the tournament, later joined the duo and posed for pictures with his certificate and a pat on his back by his grandfather.
Harjai had won the title in seven years' category in the tournament in 2017. Last year, Harjai had claimed the bronze medal in Kids Golf World Championships in Malaysia in December, where 47-year-old Jeev played his caddie's role. Jeev had also caddied for Harjai in the the US Kids Golf European Championship in Scotland in May last year and the professional golfer sounded happy about his new role. "It's good to see Harjai compete in golf. Our focus has been that whichever game he plays, we will support him, whether it is football or golf. And when he asked me to caddie for him, I was just concentrating on my role as a caddie and it was a proud moment for me. I really enjoyed him because I think he handled himself very well. I was playing golf in my mind, I was teaching him that as a caddie. He has qualified for the same tournament in Scotland this year and I will caddie for him again. He had won The Milkha Junior Golf Challenge in 2017 and he will cherish the third-place finish today," shared Jeev who has won 14 international titles.
Last month, The Milkha Junior Golf Challenge was also played at Kensville Golf Club, Ahmedabad, a golf course deigned by Jeev himself. While Jeev started playing golf at the age of nine years, the golfer is happy that more and more youngsters are coming up.
With more than three golf courses in the Tricity, Jeev believes that Chandigarh has the best golf infrastructure in the country. "I am happy that more than 130 golfers competed in this tournament. As senior players, we can guide them and help them compete in such kind of tournaments, besides providing them a platform to repeat such wins on bigger stage. When I used to compete as a junior, there were 5-6 tournaments a year. Last month, we organised The Milkha Junior Challenge in Ahmedabad and a lot of golfers played on the golf course, which I had designed. As senior golfers, we should give back to the golfing scene," shared Jeev, adding with Chandigarh Golf Club, Panchkula Golf Club, Shivalik Golf Club and Forest Hill Golf Club within a radius of 20 km, golfers have more opportunity to hone their skills.
In the last three years, Jeev has made cut in 16 tournaments with his best-place finish coming in form of tied-second in the Indonesia Open in 2016. With local lad 22-year-old Shubhankar Sharma having a breakthrough year last year, which also saw him winning the Asian Order of Merit, Jeev rates the youngster highly. "I guess Shubhankar is the best Indian player right now and will be among the best this year too. He is young and has the game to excel at the world level, apart from golfers like Anirban Lahiri, Gaganjeet Bhullar, S S P Chawrasia and Shiv Kapur. As for me, I will be competing in Singapore Open next week before Asian Tour in February after a break. I am enjoying my golf at this age," shared Jeev, who had last won a title in 2012 in the form of Scottish Open.