Jeev Milkha Singh opened the new season with a three-under 69 in the first round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf on Friday. Of the other two Indians in the fray, Shiv Kapur returning to the Tour after a gap of a year, shot one-under 71 and Gaganjeet Bhullar was one-under at the 13th hole with play still going on.
Matthew Baldwin, Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Romain Wattel were tied in lead at five-under 67 each. Eight others were at four-under 68. Jeev, who was dogged by injuries through 2013, had a bogey on 12th after teeing up from 10th. He birdied the 13th, 18th, third and sixth and dropped no more shots for his 69. Kapur bogeyed second and fifth and turned in two-over, but three birdies on 10th, 13th and 15th brought him under-par. Bhullar had three birdies and two bogeys with five more holes to go.
Jeev admitted he was still hampered by his shoulder injury. "I took 20 days off and came early to Dubai and practised at Jumeriah Estate. But I must admit, the shoulder is still not too good. I am taking six anti-inflammatory (injections). I will play these three weeks and then take a break," Jeev said.
"But I am feeling good with the game. I want to build confidence and take it from there. Once you get injured the confidence level goes down, but I just want to keep the pain away and play freely." As for the film based on his father's life, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, getting awards, Jeev was beaming and said, "My father's film getting lot of awards. It has been received well and created a big buzz. It's given him another five years!"