Jeev Milkha Singh: Suspension of tournaments tough on young golfers

The lockdown will be difficult to deal with for those whose careers are still at a nascent stage, says Jeev.

Jeev Milkha Singh... “We have already played for many years and even now going to the senior tour but for players who are in their 20s, they are not able to train.”   -  Getty Images

Indian golfer Jeev Milkha Singh on Wednesday said the lockdown and suspension of tournaments will be “tough” on young players whose careers are still at a nascent stage.

The coronavirus outbreak, which has killed over 1.5 lakh people and infected more than 2.5 million globally, has brought all sports, including golf, to a halt. In India, nearly 600 people have died so far and over 19,000 infected, forcing the suspension of the Professional Tour of India.

“It will be toughest for the players who are starting off because they are waiting to prove themselves, they want to win tournaments, they want to make a livelihood,” Jeev, a four-time European Tour champion, told PTI.

“These young golfers who have just turned professionals want to make money, want to be on tours but they don’t have an opportunity to do that. We have already played for many years and even now going to the senior tour but for players who are in their 20s, they are not able to train.”

Rahul Bajaj, who won a team silver in golf at the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010, believes players after the 30th position in order of merit of PGTI will face difficult times if things don’t return to normal soon. “If it goes on for too long then the pro tour will suffer. If things becomes normal and the virus is under control even then it will be difficult to organise tournaments and arrange sponsors because corporates are suffering right now,” said Bajaj, who had won a silver at 2010 SAF Games.

‘Difficult times’

“We are in difficult times and I don’t think it will be easy for players to make ends meet in these times. There are some players who are better off, have good career earning which will help them to sail through this time.”

He said it will be particularly tough for a huge number of aspiring players who are in the middle or lower rung. “They might not have a lot of money in their bank account and might suffer. If you go past the 30th position in order of merit in PGTI, they might not have the saving to see through this time.”

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Patna-based golfer Aman Raj, who had finished second at Golconda Masters Golf championship in February, said it will get tough for some players if the pandemic is not brought under control soon and tournaments don’t resume. “We are all jobless at the moment for a few months but it is same for everyone, few have played well and earned some money to sustain themselves but someone who has just started and depending on golf, it will affect them,” said the 24-year-old, who qualified to play in the PGTI tournaments in 2016.

“If this thing doesn’t come under control and tournaments doesn’t start beyond August then it will be a problem,” added Raj, who is placed fourth in the PGTI Order of Merit.

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The Asian Tour had suspended tournaments until the end of May in line with the US PGA and European Tours, in which the last completed event was the Qatar Masters. Among the top events, the Masters, scheduled to be played in April, was postponed to November, while the PGA Championship was deferred from May until August, and the US Open moved from June to September.

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