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June 15: India’s Jeev Milkha Singh is battling time as he prepares to lead a strong Asian Tour cast at the US Open this week with the aim of delivering Asia’s first major title.
The year’s second major starts at Bethpage State Park’s Black course in New York from Thursday and joining Singh will be Angelo Que of the Philippines and Korean trio K.J. Choi, Bae Sang-moon and Charlie Wi.
Asian Tour honorary member Vijay Singh of Fiji will also be in the elite field.
It will be a walk down memory lane for Jeev, the reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion as he made his major debut at the US Open at the same venue back in 2002.
However, the 37th ranked player in the world will have to shrug off a rib injury he picked up during the recent Celtic Manor Wales Open where he finished a commendable joint sixth.
The Indian, who has been drawn alongside his namesake Vijay Singh and Choi, will decide on Wednesday night if he is fit enough to compete in the US Open.
After missing the cut at the US Masters in April by one stroke, Jeev will be determined to win his fitness race and compete in the US Open where world number one Tiger Woods is the title holder.
His form has been solid with two recent top-10s in Europe while he was also fourth at the WGC-CA Championship in Doral, USA earlier this season.
The immensely talented Choi, who is an Asian Tour honorary member, is also expected to sparkle at Bethpage. The powerful Korean has come close to winning Asia’s first major on several occasions where he finished third at the Masters Tournament in 2004 and was the halfway leader at the British Open last year before finishing tied 16th.
Choi endured a slow start to his season, posting only one top-10 at the Northern Trust Open where he finished joint third but he showed a welcome return to form at the Memorial Tournament two weeks ago by placing 13th.
Que, last year’s Philippine Open champion, and Bae, a three-time winner on the Asian Tour, will make their US Open debuts and take their places alongside the world’s best players after a successful qualifying campaign in Japan.
Que finished second to qualify for his second major test while big-hitting Bae, winner of the GS Caltex Maekyung Open in May, was third in the qualifiers.
Wi, a seven-time winner on the Asian Tour and a regular on the US PGA Tour, earned his US Open place after topping his sectional qualifying in California.
Vijay, a three-time major champion, will aim to roll back the years as he contests for the prestigious US Open title. Vijay is living testament that age is no barrier as the 46-year-old Fijian claimed three titles last year on the PGA Tour.
Asian Tour Executive Chairman Kyi Hla Han believes that the Asian Tour stars will be gunning for glory at the US Open. He said Asian golf has improved over the years which is reflected by the strong Asian Tour presence at the US Open.
“The growth of professional golf in Asia has been evident over the past few years that our players have consistently shown great performances on the international stage. We have a very strong line-up of players at the US Open and I have every confidence they will compete with the sole intention of achieving success,” said Han.
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