Jeev Milkha Singh's father was a 400 metres runner who once bettered the Olympic record. Now some of golf's top players are struggling to keep up with the searing pace Jeev has set in 2006. The Indian star enters next week's US$2 million UBS Hong Kong Open at the end of an unforgettable year: top of the Asian Tour money list, two European Tour titles under his belt and 10 top-10 finishes in just 14 starts on the Japan Golf Tour. It is an astonishing turnaround in fortunes for a player who, in his mid-30s, had begun the season without a victory in seven years and was, by his own admission, starting to doubt himself. As it turned out, all he needed to do was relax. 'I had been getting pretty close but was missing out,' he recalls. 'I was trying my hardest, and playing pretty well, but I knew something was missing. I kept thinking and thinking about it - and I realised I had become too results-oriented. Instead of simply focusing on routine, I was thinking about the result and trying too hard to win, which meant I was just putting more pressure on myself.' Appropriately enough for a player who eschews a regular coach and places a heavy emphasis on mental preparation and yoga - the answer came from within. 'I made a conscious decision at the start of this year to try a new approach. I said to myself, 'Hey, just go out there and follow your process and if it happens for you, all well and good; if not, you've got another week and you've got to keep trying'.' Never mind the result, concentrate on the performance. It is a mantra the 34-year-old has followed all year - with spectacular consequences. His breakthrough came in April's Volvo China Open in Beijing. A solid two-under-par 70 in the final round gave him a 10-under winning total of 278, a shot clear of Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. It was an emotional moment. A decade earlier, Jeev had been one of the brightest young stars on the Asian Tour. In 1996, he was part of the Indian team who stunned Scotland in the Dunhill Cup at St Andrews and the following year he became the first Indian golfer to qualify for the European Tour. By the turn of the century he had four Asian Tour titles to his name, plus a string of runner-up finishes, and the future held much promise. Then came a succession of injuries, particularly a wrist problem. He missed tournaments and his ranking plummeted. 'When you're injured and out of it, then it's tough to come back and start focusing again. You're under pressure to keep your tour card and a lot of things go through your mind,' admits Jeev. He started to get back on track on the Asian Tour in 2004 with two top-10s from 11 starts. Last year brought further improvement, three top-10s from 12 starts and a leap from 44 to 21 in the money list. Then came 2006 and with it his new mental approach. 'Winning in Beijing gave me great satisfaction. I had been doubting myself a little bit because I hadn't won for so many years, so to win a significant tournament like that was tremendous. It also gave me added confidence and, after that, I had a weekly belief that I could do it again.' The triumph saw him become only the second Indian after Arjun Atwal to win a European Tour event and it also moved him into first place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, where he has remained ever since. He went on to finish second in May's SK Telecom Open in Seoul and then enjoyed a memorable summer, qualifying for and playing in all four rounds of the US Open at Winged Foot and following up with an impressive joint-fourth finish in the European Open at the K Club in Ireland. That set the stage for his biggest victory yet - at the European Tour's season-ending Volvo Masters in Valderrama, Spain, last month. With media - and perhaps the players' - attention focused on the tight race for the European Tour Order of Merit title, Jeev stole in for a one-shot triumph from three of the biggest names in the game - Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald. Perhaps most astonishingly, he admits to taking his new 'forget the result, concentrate on the golf' approach to new extremes in the final round. Despite having been the overnight leader, he avoided looking at the leaderboard until faced with an eight-foot par putt on the final green. 'It's true, I didn't check the scores all day, I just concentrated on my game. It was only on the 18th green, when I was facing that putt, that I checked the leaderboard and realised I had two putts to win. I hit a good putt which just lipped out, so it was no problem.' And his thoughts as he held the trophy and the winner's cheque for US$850,000? 'I just had a feeling of great satisfaction at having won such a big tournament. 'I was also thinking it had earned me a five-year exemption on the European Tour and that I'd get into some WGC [World Golf Cup] events and that I'd be playing in the British Open.' It is all a far cry from the Indian city of Chandigarh at the end of the 1970s, where nine-year-old Jeev would accompany his father, Milkha Singh, to the local golf course. Singh senior had been India's greatest ever track and field star, winning gold at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games and finishing fourth in the 400 metres final at the 1960 Rome Olympics, when he and the bronze medallist both beat the existing Olympic record and the two runners ahead of them beat the world record. 'Somebody presented my father with a set of clubs during a visit to London,' recalls Jeev. 'They said, 'Mr Singh, you should try this game, it's excellent', so my dad took up golf. I went along to pull his golf cart and got hooked on the game.' Jeev soon showed natural talent and, after considerable success as a teenager, earned a golf scholarship to Abilene Christian University in Texas, where he won the NCAA Division II championship in 1993 before turning pro. Singh senior, for the record, remains happily retired in Chandigarh, where he plays three or four rounds of golf a week and keeps a close eye on his son's progress. Jeev, too, remains based in Chandigarh for now, although he accepts that will have to change now that Europe and the US beckon. 'I'm going to get into a lot of European Tour events next year, a few WGC events and I'm going to get some starts in the US. By the middle of December, I'm going to have to make a decision about whether to get a place in London or the States.' Before then, Jeev has the Hong Kong Open - starting on Thursday at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling - to think about. European players have won the past seven editions of the co-sanctioned tournament, but Jeev thinks an Asian player could step up to put an end to that run. 'It's amazing the way the Asian Tour has improved and I feel the Asian players have a lot of talent. The only thing missing is they need to rub shoulders more with the bigger players. The more they play against them then the more confidence they will have and the better they will play. 'And I love Fanling. It's an excellent golf course and a great setting for the Open because it involves the old, traditional style of golf. You've got to have a lot of imagination, a lot of different shots and a lot of finesse.' Jeev heads into the final two events of the Asian Tour season with a lead of US$118,237 over Thailand's Prom Meesawat in the Order of Merit. True to his new philosophy, Jeev refuses to put pressure on himself. 'As far as the Order of Merit is concerned it's looking good, but it's not over until it's over. I'm going to treat the Open as just another week and will try to follow my routine and process. Hopefully that will give me a good result. If not, I'll just keep trying.' All of which is worrying news for Retief Goosen, Colin Montgomerie and Co next weekend.