India's ace golfer Jeev Milkha Singh, who has been struggling with a right shoulder rotator cuff injury, said he will skip the Tshwane Open in South Africa scheduled later this month to rest and regain his fitness ahead of the season without undergoing surgery. "I am not going to South Africa next week because I am not fit enough. I am going to practice for two weeks after this, get better and then try Morocco (Hassan II) and then try take a month off, after that," Jeev said.
"With the month off, I am sure with the medicine, I should get better and I can work harder on my game also," he told PTI here at the Indian Premier League-style Louis Phillipe Cup event that started on Wednesday at the BPGC course in Chembur.
The Tshwane Open is scheduled from February 27 to March 2 and after the tournament in Morocco, the star golfer is set to take another three-month break before returning to the course by taking part in the Malaysian Open scheduled from April 17. "After Morocco, I will take a month off and then start from the Malaysian Open. Then I will play three weeks - Malaysia, Volvo China, a tournament in Korea. Then I take a week off and then I start from the Spanish Open. Then I move to Europe. Basically just play there and then I will hopefully play the British Open, US Open and hope to do well," he said.
The Chandigarh-born Arjuna awardee, winner of four European Tour events in his glittering career, rated 2013 as his worst year as he was plagued with injury problems like a tear in his shoulder. "2013 would be the worst year so far. The reason for that is a player who is injured and not practicing enough, I don't think can perform. That is the truth and reality. Now I feel, with the medicine that I am taking, my injury is 50 per cent better," he said.
"I just feel till March if the injury gets better, I will probably start working harder on my game and my performance is going to get better," Jeev added.
"I just need time for the injury to heal because my shoulder needs surgery and I don't want to get surgery done. It is a rotator cuff injury and lot of doctors are saying surgery, but I am avoiding it," Jeev said.
"As a player, if you get surgery, you are not the same after that. Maybe it takes eight weeks or twelve weeks for me to come back, but it won't be the same.
"I am taking the route which is longer way of doing things but hopefully, the body is healing on its own naturally. Whereas if I go for a quick fix and it is not right, then I am out for a whole year.
"I am hoping that I am on the right track and hopefully things get better for me and I start working hard and the performance is going to get better," he said.
Jeev is presently ranked 327 in the world but is confident of breaking into the top 100 once again. "World ranking is a concern for sure, because I haven't been (ranked) so low in my life. But I know I am injured. I will get better. With time, my ranking is going to get better. I know I will be back in the top 100 if my injury gets better. I have got that much confidence that I will be back in the top 100 and I will be in the winning circle also," he said.
"It is going to be tough, I am in the 300s but if I win once this year and a few top 10s, I should be in the top 100," he added.
Jeev believes that he still has 10 more years left and wants to win a major championship before he retires. "I am 42, but I still feel that I have another 10 years in me. I am going to go hard at it for another seven years, and then hopefully join the senior tour. I will be like a little kid who started pro circuit at the age of 21. I will do the same thing again," he said.
"I would like to win a major championship before my career is over. These seven years are going to be very important for me, especially these four five right now. My main focus is to just stay fit and work hard on my game, and get back in the top 50. If you get back in the top 50 then you are able to play the majors or you qualify," he added.
The Punjab star said he plans to qualify for the Major Championship this year and at least break into the top 50 to have a good shot at the title. "This year I am looking at qualifying. Hopefully by next year, I am back in the top 50, so that I can get into a major championship. Once you are in a major championship, then only you have a chance of winning, if you are not in a major, you have no chance," Jeev said.
"My goal is to get into major championship so that I have a good chance at it. My favourite is the Masters. I would love to win the Masters. As a kid, it has been my dream but any Major would do," he added.
Asked about the current crop of youngsters, Jeev said, "There are a lot of good players in India. Gaganjeet (Bhullar) is a very good player, Himmat Rai, Anirban Lahiri all these kids are talented. They are hungry and they want to prove themselves. "The only advice I give them is that I didn't have that much when I started. If Jeev Milkha Singh could win such tournaments in Europe, you guys should say I must do better than him."
He also believes that world number one player Tiger Woods' visit to India will augur well for golf in the country. "It is very good for Indian golf. I think it is going to give a boost to Indian golf. It is in a way that the number one player showing the interest that golf is growing in our country and players are doing well," he said.