Jeev registers best Major finish at Augusta

Jeev Milkha Singh came back from a disastrous start of six-over after 10 holes to finish with a three-over 75 at the Masters.

updated: May 04, 2008 08:21 IST
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Augusta (Georgia):

Jeev Milkha Singh's fighting capabilities were fully on view as he came back from a disastrous start of six-over after 10 holes to finish with a three-over 75 and register his best Major result in 25th place at the Masters.

Jeev, who had a quadruple on the final day last year, had a nightmare return with a double bogey on the first this time. He was then in all sorts of trouble on a windswept day as he went six-over for 10 holes and stared at a big number at the Augusta National Golf Club here Sunday.

But Jeev then hit a purple patch with four birdies on a five-hole stretch to salvage his round on a day when only four players broke par.

"I came back pretty strongly at the back nine and left a few out there. I tried but I made too many mistakes on the front nine. My management wasn't up to the mark. I was pushing myself too much and getting result orientated and I paid the price," said Jeev, who finished tied 37th in his Masters debut last year.

South African Trevor Immelman handled the wind and pressure of Augusta National to keep the challengers at bay and become the first South African in a green jacket in 30 years. Immelman finished at 8-under 280.

Immelman held it together around Amen Corner and stretched his lead to as many as six shots on the back nine. A two-putt par on the final hole gave him a 3-over 75, matching the highest final round by a Masters champion.

It was nevertheless good enough for a three-shot victory over Tiger Woods, whose hopes for a calendar Grand Slam ended right at the start of the year.

Woods closed with a 72 and has finished third-second-second in his last three Masters. It also was his fifth runner-up finish in a major.

Immelman earned $1.35 million for his second PGA TOUR victory, with Woods also finishing second behind him two years ago in the Cialis Western Open.

Immelman's boyhood hero Gary Player, who won his third Masters in 1978, played the practice round with him and then set a record by playing for the 51st time.

Jeev, the Asian Tour's number one in 2006, completed the year's opening Major with a four-day total of four-over-par 292, which earned him a creditable equal 25th position. His previous best finish at a Major was tied 37th in the US Open last year.

"I was trying shots which I shouldn't have. On the first and ninth holes, I should have just made sure I got the ball up on the green and I didn't. It was poor management. I'm a little disappointed with the way I finished as I wanted the top-16 (to earn a return trip to next year's Masters). Hopefully I can learn from this and come back next year."

Jeev's outward nine 41 was a nightmare. With howling winds making life tough, Jeev suffered double bogeys on the first and ninth holes and in between bogeyed the third and fifth against a lone birdie on the second.

A bogey on the 10th following another errant approach from the middle of the fairway took him to six-over and after starting 23rd overnight, he was plummeting fast on the leaderboard.

A birdie on the par five 13th hole sparked a fight back. On the 14th, he hit a spinning wedge shot to within inches for a tap-in birdie while his playing partner Nick Watney sensationally holed out for an eagle.

Jeev converted a 15-foot birdie on the 16th hole and trickled in his fifth birdie of the round from 12 feet on the 17th, only to drop a bogey on the last after a blocked drive clipped a tree, missing a six foot par save.

"After 10, I said I had nothing to lose. That was the attitude and I came back strongly. The last hole left a sour taste in the mouth. But the 14th was fantastic, it was a great feeling. That hole has always got me and I got it today," said Jeev.

Jeev, who has two runner-up finishes on the Asian Tour this season, will take next week off before heading to Shanghai for the BMW Asian Open. He will also play an event in Japan before returning to Europe with the aim of working his way back into the world's top-50.

Woods never got within five shots of the lead when he was on the course, twice missed birdie putts inside eight feet and had to settle for a 72 for his second consecutive runner-up finish in the Masters.

Immelman's story is one of great grit. Four months ago, doctors discovered a tumour in his diaphragm that required surgery through his back to remove it. The tumour was benign and the recovery was quick. It took him two months to get his game back in shape. And on Sunday he was crowned the Masters champion.

Brandt Snedeker tied for third with Stewart Cink. Steve Flesch, Padraig Harrington and Phil Mickelson tied for fifth.