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Jeeva bags crown, Indians top money chart in Asian Tour

Written by: Staff

Hong Kong, Nov 19 (UNI) Jeev Milkha Singh capped a magical year by claiming the prestigious Asian Tour's UBS Order of Merit title today.

A tied third finish at the two million UBS Hong Kong Open was good enough to give Jeev his first merit crown and he achieved the feat with one event, the season-ending Volvo Masters of Asia in Bangkok next month, to spare.

''I'm very excited. It's like a Christmas gift to me now. I'm ready for Christmas!'' said Jeev, who is the third Indian after Jyoti Randhawa and Arjun Atwal to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit.

''This year has been excellent. It's like a dream year. With a tied third finish here and winning the UBS Order of Merit, it is just perfect for me,'' he added.

With 573,442 dollars in 13 outings, Jeev broke the Asian Tour's record for earnings in a season where he has accumulated 573,442 dollars, beating last year's mark of 510,123 dollars set by his predecessor Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand.

With 104,000 dollars on offer to the winner of the Volvo Masters of Asia, Singh enjoys an unassailable lead as Thailand's Prom Meesawat lies a distant second on the UBS Order of Merit with 365,471 dollars.

And Jeev's purse swells up exponentially when one takes into account his earnings from Europen Tour and Japan Tour. Jeev's sensational win in Volo Masters in Spain recently fetched him 840,000 dollars.

His rise to the Asian summit was a welcome return to prominence as Jeev spent many years in the wilderness following a string of injuries and loss in confidence.

However, a victory at the co-sanctioned Volvo China Open in April saw Jeev end a seven-year drought and the tenacious Indian rode on that momentum and secured another monumental triumph by beating Europe's best at the Volvo Masters in Spain where he became only the third Asian to win on European soil.

''I was glad that I proved something for myself with wins on the big stage. I won at Valderrama and that gave me a lot of trust and satisfaction. I personally feel that Asian players are good enough to win on any Tour in the world right now,'' admitted Jeev.

Meanwhile compatriots Jyoti Randhawa and Shiv Kapur also appear in the top-10 Asian Tour money rakers, clearly indicating that the Indians golfers are ruling the roost in the continent.

Order of Merit winner in 2002 Jyoti Randhawa also had a fruitful outing in Asia and the star golfer is lying sixth in the money list with 291,818 dollars to his credit in just 10 events played.

Even after a less-than-impressive show this season, gifted Shiv Kapur is at eighth spot with 266,177 dollars in 15 outings.

Gaurav Ghei (11th) and Rahil Gangjee (19th) also feature in top-20.

Order Of Merit: 1 Jeev Milkha Singh(India 3,442 dlr), 2. Prom Meesawat (Thailand, 5,471), 3. Thongchai Jaidee (Thailand, 0,736), 4. Andrew Buckle (Australia, 5,912), 5. Charlie Wi (Korea, 9,680), 6 Jyoti Randhawa (India, 1,818), 7. Juvic Pagunsan (Philippines, 8,794), 8 Shiv Kapur (India, 6,177), 9. Brad Kennedy (Australia, 2,664), 10. Mardan Mamat (Singapore, 3,193) UNI XC DH SAM RK1710

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