Jeev Milkha Singh has one consolation as he faces a race against time to be fit for the Royal Trophy – at least he has the “perfect” replacement standing in the wings.

Asian captain Joe Ozaki has put Prayad Marksaeng on standby, and the Thai golfer is the favourite son of the Hua Hin region where the Clash of the Continents takes place this weekend.

He was born there and still lives in the coastal town, and if he is called up to replace the stricken Indian star he would be guaranteed huge support at the Black Mountain Golf Club.

Singh underlined his determination to take his appointed place in the Asian line-up as he was the first member of the Asian team to fly into Thailand.

But he was forced to admit that time is not on his side.

He explained: “Until four days ago I had not hit a golf ball for five weeks, and even now I have probably only hit the driver about ten times in practice because of the extra stress it puts on the body.

“The problem is not the shoulder injury that troubled me for so much of 2010, although it is related to that.

“I was trying to compensate for the left shoulder and put too much strain on my lower back. That caused a disc problem, and anyone could tell you that back complaints and golfers are not a good mix.

“It happened when I was playing in Japan at the end of November. I made the cut but I could not play the final two rounds because the pain was so severe.

“I flew home to India and had a scan two days later, and that confirmed the disc problem. The only cure is rest and some manipulation, but I was warned not to risk aggravating it.

“But the Royal Trophy has grown into such a wonderful event that I was determined to play if I possibly could. That is why I flew here early – travelling is not good for the back, so I wanted as much recovery time as possible.

“I will give it my very best shot, talk regularly to the Asian Team Captain Joe Ozaki about how I feel, and we will make a final decision just before the pairings for the opening series of Foursomes are announced on Thursday.

“But if things don’t work out I am fortunate that Captain Ozaki has an excellent contingency plan in place, with Prayad Marksaeng joining the team. He will be ready to step in for me at a moment’s notice.

“With his course knowledge and his local support, he really would be the perfect replacement. That is a help in my situation, because if the worst comes to the worst I could step aside without feeling like I was letting the team down.

“I hope it does not come to that, but I cannot afford to risk my long term future by gambling with my fitness. That would not be fair to me or the team, because whoever plays in Friday’s Foursomes has to play all three days.”

“It is great that Jeev is trying so hard to be able to play in the Royal Trophy once again;” stated Royal Trophy Managing Director, Lincoln Venancio.

“It shows how much of a highlight the Matches have become;” added Lincoln Venancio.

The Royal Trophy is organized by the Sports Authority of Thailand in conjunction with the Prachuap Khirikhan Province, the Hua Hin Muncipality and Entertainment and Sports Co., Ltd. The Championship is promoted internationally by Entertainment Group Limited.

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