Top Indian golfers Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa have never played a Major together in their regular career, but now at 50-plus, they will compete at the wet and windy Royal Porthcawl here for the Senior Open, one of the Majors for players over 50 years of age.
Relishing the thought of being back together at the same event, just as they had done for two decades and more from junior days to pro days before moving past 50 (to become seniors), they were excited to hook up despite the wet and windy weather.
“We loved playing with each other and this is a new beginning,” Jeev said.
The ‘Big Three’, as they are always called, have seven World Tour wins between them, five wins in Japan and one on the PGA TOUR among their total collection of 40 international titles. While Jeev was twice Asia No 1, the other two were on top once each.
Jeev played and missed the cut at the Senior Open last year when it was held at Gleneagles. Atwal and Randhawa, on their part, are playing their maiden Senior Major.
Atwal has played three senior events before this week and two of them have been Majors and he made the cut in both. For Randhawa, it will be his debut in seniors.
“This will be my fourth Senior event and three have been Majors. I am going to play a mix of Seniors and a few events that I can get on in the PGA TOUR,” said Atwal, the only Indian who has won on the biggest Tour in the world.
Jeev has been playing a lot of Senior events around the world — a few in the US and several others in Europe and Japan, too. He has had some top-10s, too, but none in Majors.
“I love the links and the Royal Porthcawl was my introduction to Links golf when I was about 15. We came for a Junior Amateur event. We (Amandeep Johl and Uttam Singh Mundy) had travelled from Paris and had run out of money,” Jeev recalled.
“We were helped by the Indian embassy to get visas and when we came here, we saw wind and rain and weather like this for the first time and played golf in it. I just fell in love with Links golf,” he added.
After winning his first World Tour — then called the European Tour — event in China, Jeev became the only Indian to have won three more in Europe: the Scottish Open in Scotland, the Masters at Valderrama and the Austrian Open.
“That win in Scotland is still one of my best,” said Jeev.
Randhawa was drawing plans for a month-long stay in Europe for a few events and when he saw that the Senior Open was in Wales, he decided to give the Qualifiers a shot.
“I did it just like and got one of the spots. It will be fun to be back with my old friends (Jeev and Arjun) and lots of others who I played golf with for so many years on European and Asian Tours,” he said.
All three heaped their praise on the young Shubhankar Sharma, who played outstanding golf to finish in top-10. Sharma was tied-8th and was the only player in the entire field to play a bogey-free round.
Jeev called it “a fantastic performance by the young boy”.
“He was up there and anything could have happened. And I think that’s a great finish by the young man finishing eighth. I am proud of him. I think the country should be proud of him for the performance he’s put out there,” he said.
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