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What they said: Jeev Milkha Singh

PGATOUR.com

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Good morning, Jeev. Thank you for joining us.

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Morning.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: How are we?

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Very well. I woke up early. Just trying to get over the jet lag. After the Open I went back to India, picked my family up, just flew them 20 hours yesterday to get here, and was really tired, went to sleep at about 10:00, woke up about 5:20. I think that was pretty good. I think I'm getting used to the jet lag.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: What was your flight path?

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: It was a quick one back to India from London, and then five days at home. I hadn't seen my family for five weeks. My little one is two years and six months, wanted to see him, and he's talking now. He's just repeating everything what we say, so it's fun. But picked him up, and he was pretty good on the plane. We flew Delhi, Dubai, Dubai to JFK, and then to Akron. I think we were ready to hit the sack when we got here. But another hour here, so that wasn't bad, quick dinner, and bedtime.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: So you're feeling all right. How is the game?

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Feeling pretty good. Didn't do anything last week in India. It was hot, so I just basically took a week off, and going to start some practice today, hit a few, and try to get the muscle memory going and get back to work.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Do you think we should talk about the Olympics maybe? I don't know if all of our American audience know about your special affinity with the Olympics with your father, if you could take us through that story.

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, it's something very important and something very big for our family, especially for my father. He's, I think, represented India in 400 meters and 200 meters I think three times. He's done three Olympics. He broke the world record in 1964, I think. That was a long time back. I wasn't born. '64, he finished fourth. He's won the Commonwealth Gold, and gold being introduced in the Olympics, I'm really excited. Even my father is. He's 82 right now, and I'm just hoping that I can represent India in the Olympics in golf, and if that happens, I think that'll be the best thing and a gift to my father if I could do that.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Sounds good enough to make a movie out of.

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: There's already a movie on him coming out. It's a Bollywood movie. It's coming out next year in Jan on Republic Day. It's an inspirational movie for the youth and for the public in India, and it's going to be released all over the world basically, and it's going to be?? the subtitles are going to be in English, so I think we've got a good director, a good actor in there, and I think it's going to be an excellent movie.

Q. Do you know the name of it?

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, it's called Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Bhaag means run. Run Milkha Run. And I think it's an amazing movie. It's going to touch a lot of people. There's a fantastic message being sent out because the title means a lot, and I can't tell you what it means because one of the directors told me because my father never told me that, and he told me that your father hasn't told you why we named it that way. And one day he was over to my place, and he told me about it, and I don't want to say anything before the movie is released. I think that's when they're going to?? it's going to be a big impact why they named it that way.

Q. How long has the movie been in the works?

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: It's been since Jan this year, and half is completed. They're going to go to Australia in September because that's where he ran, too, in Australia. They're going to do some shooting there. And then hopefully in Jan next year they're going to release it on the 26th of Jan.

Q. So is your dad still considered a hero over there?

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes. He still jokes with me whenever we are out in public, I think more people go take autographs from him than from me. He said, I think you need to do a little bit better. I said, Dad, I'm working at it.

Q. Growing up did you consider him like?? did he have anything to do with you becoming athletic or anything?

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: A lot. Obviously had a lot of arguments because he always kept repeating the same thing all the time, discipline and hard work. I said, Dad, come on, that's enough. And he still does it to this date. He says you're still my child, don't forget that. He said, when you have yours, you'll do the same. I said, okay.

He had a lot to do with it. I think the reason for that is he gave me a very good environment in the house and he gave me the right guidance, and where he needed to be firm with me, he was, and where he needed to be a friend to me, was a friend to me. That was fantastic. I think I've shared a fantastic relationship with him.

Q. After his Olympic career, what did he do for a living?

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: He worked for the government. He was a Director of States for one of the States in India. It's called Punjab. He did that, and then he retired a few years ago. He loves his golf now, nine holes or 18. He can't walk 18 holes. He plays in a cart. He plays bridge in the afternoon with his friends and comes home, has his two drinks, and goes to sleep.

Q. I'm just curious about when you found out they were making a movie, did you know anyone who's lobbying for this or were you blown away by the fact that they wanted to do one?

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, I was blown away, and I think it was a fantastic idea by the director. He's one of the best directors in India right now. I consider personally because I watch a lot of Bollywood and Hollywood movies. He himself was a swimmer, and he was going to represent India in the Asian Games, and for some reason he didn't make it. So he says, I want to send a message out to the youth that without hard work you aren't going to get anywhere, and it's got to be an inspirational movie because the background my father comes from.

He basically was from a village. He had no education, partition took place between India and Pakistan. It was India. It was west of India became Pakistan, and after that dad came to India. He had a hard life, and after that he decided?? he was in the army then, and one day he was just running a race, and he won that, a marathon. And one of the guys advised him that you need to become a sprinter, so he just started running.

He became a top athlete. I guess with the hardships he faced, he just had a desire to do something in life.

Q. I watched the other night highlights of Jesse Owens. I just wondered if you'd ever seen the old tapes of his races.

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, I have. They were in black and white, I remember. I've seen a few races. I love watching him ?? I've loved watching him run. When I was growing up he showed me a few, and I've got a lot of good memories of it.

Q. When did you first realize your father was famous?

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Growing up obviously you see that, and people come and ask him for autographs all the time, and wherever he walks, they always want photographs. Maybe he's at the airport or at a train station or he's at the golf course. I've seen it all the time.

That's when I realized. And the good part was that he made sure it didn't get to my head. He made sure that you be a self?made man because if you think your father has done this, you're going to get everything now, and if you're going to take this profession up, you'd better work hard. He still repeats it. I said, come on, dad, I'm 40 now. He says, no, you still don't get it.

Q. You talked about this Olympic thing before, but if you did make the Olympics in four years' time would you be sort of chuffed to carry the Olympic flag?

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Yes, because hopefully my dad is still fit and fine at the time, and it would be one of the greatest gifts I could give to my dad. I want to be walking in the team with the right jacket and not gate crashing.

Q. It's a very big two weeks for you after winning the Scottish Open. You've got this week and the PGA. How important are they for you, these two weeks?

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Very important. My goal this year is to get back in the top 50 in the world. I've gone through a tough time with my injuries the last three years, but I've just hung in there and good things have come my way, especially the Scottish Open. I think the golfing gods are on my side, and I've got a lot of confidence in my game and I'm looking forward to these two weeks. And these are big weeks. I've played in Akron before. I think I've played twice or thrice there, and I've played the PGA a few times, and it gives me good memories because the PGA is the best finish I've had in a major championship.

I think at Oakmont I think I finished ninth, and I'm looking forward to the last major championship.

Q. Do you think they'll ever make a film about your life?

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Hopefully if I win a major.

Q. There's no one involved in this movie that we would recognize the name, like the director or?? you don't think we would know?

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: No, I think if you Google it, in India he's very well known. He's made a lot of good movies.

Q. What's his name?

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: Rakesh Ombrashak Mehra.

Q. When you've heard that Olympics was going to have golf, were you?? I just wondered can you remember your reaction when it was approved?

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I think I was really excited. I was happy that I'm going to be 45, I've got a chance at it. I'm not going to be close to 50, so I said, I've got a fair chance at it, because at 40 you get a new life in golf, I feel, and I think I can last up. Tom Watson has done it, Greg has done it, Vijay has done it, all the boys have done it, Kenny Perry has done it. I think I've got a fair chance at it.

Q. Did you ever go out on the track with dad and did he try to make you into a runner?

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: I've been out with him, but when he was professionally or when he was running for the country, I wasn't born at that time. He just gave up. I've been with him just when I was in school, but I've never seen him. I wasn't born at that time. He gave up running I think in the late '60s. '68 was the last time he ran, I think, and I was born in the '70s.

Q. I was thinking he would want to try to turn you into a sprinter?

JEEV MILKHA SINGH: He tried, but I just loved the game of golf. I lived next to it. He played golf, and I said, I love this game, and he said, no problem, any sport is good.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Jeev, thanks very much for joining us. Good luck this week.

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