Indian star Jeev Milkha Singh is determined to bounce back from his latest career dip with a strong showing at the USD 800,000 Macau Open which starts on Thursday. The double Asian Tour number one is amongst an elite cast assembled at the challenging Macau Golf and Country Club which includes four-time Major winner Ernie Els of South Africa, Thai stars Thaworn Wiratchant and Thongchai Jaidee, Indian duo Jyoti Randhawa and Arjun Atwal and Chinese ace Liang Wen-chong, all former Order of Merit champions.
Australian Scott Hend, a two-time winner this season and currently second on the rankings, and title holder Gaganjeet Bhullar of India will also headline what is the strongest field at the Macau Open.
The tenacious Jeev, whose father Milkha was a famous Olympic runner, has missed 10 cuts in his last 11 tournaments in Europe but he hopes a return onto the Asian Tour, where he is a six-time champion, will spark a turnaround in fortune.
"I've gone through this phase before and if you keep believing in yourself, things will turn," said Jeev, who finished fourth in Macau two years ago. "I've gone through ups and downs throughout my career but I've always come out as a winner. I'm just going to hang in there again."
A niggling right index finger injury has proven to be a bane for Jeev this season, which has seen him fall out of the world's top-100. With seven other wins in Europe and Japan in his illustrious career, Jeev believes he can return into the world's top-50 and dreams of winning a Major championship.
"Before my career is over, I would like to win a Major. I believe I have the game. If I hang in there, put myself in the right position, and the right position would be the top-50 to get into the Majors, I think I have a fighting chance," said Jeev.
"Honestly, I love this game. I love the pressure, I love the competition, that's what keeps me going. I love winning. I've got 21 wins worldwide. I just love winning, it's a great feeling. If there wasn't pressure, I'll be bored of this game and you'll be complacent."
With his family with him this week Jeev is confident of stringing together four solid rounds to contend for a seventh Asian Tour victory.
"The last time I came here two years ago, I finished fourth. I love this golf course, it's windy, amazing views and lovely restaurants to eat at during the evenings. There's a lot of buzz in the city and it's a fantastic place. I hope to make the most out of the week," he said.
Like Jeev, countryman Atwal has also endured a wretched year due to injuries. Atwal, the 2003 Asian Tour number one and the first Indian winner on the PGA Tour, hopes the feel-good vibes in Macau will help him launch a revival.
"I think I last played in Macau in 2003 and I remember I played well and maybe finished third and had a chance to win on Sunday. I've got good memories of Macau," said Atwal.Â "You have to drive it good. It gets pretty windy out there and it's a tight golf course. You have to hit a lot of fairways and like most golf courses, make putts to have a chance.
"I won't say I'm fully recovered. My lower back gets tight once in a while so we'll see. I haven't played much the past seven weeks. I don't have any goals this week. I just want to see where I'm at with my game. I want to see if I can finish all 18 holes every day."
With the Asian Tour celebrating its milestone 10th season this year, Atwal said the region's premier Tour had provided the foundation for him and other Indians to build their careers. Atwal enjoyed the honour of becoming Asia's first million-dollar career earner in 2003.
"It means everything. This was where we started .... Jeev, myself, Jyoti. It gave us the opportunity at the right time when we were young to learn how to do everything in golf - make cuts, travel around Asia," said Atwal.