Insider: Jimenez ready for Champions Tour debut
April 01, 2014
By Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM
- Miguel Angel Jimenez has won 30 times worldwide and has contended in multiple majors. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)
Miguel Angel Jimenez isn’t acting his age. Or is he?
It’s not an original thought that 50 is the new 40 in golf. The concept has circulated and gained support for several years on the Champions Tour and Jimenez is determined to prove it in 2014.
Jimenez, the veteran European Tour star with the cigar longer than conceded putts, a wine glass that’s never half-full and the signature ponytail, will make his Champions Tour debut in the second Greater Gwinnett Championship at TPC Sugarloaf, April 18-20.
Next up on his busy international agenda is the Masters Tournament. Last week, Jimenez was player/captain of the European side in Malaysia for the Eurasia Cup, which ended in a draw.
Jimenez is another of the 50-year-olds who doesn’t have time to look back. His standard remains high and his focus is on the future. The popular Spaniard has his sights set on earning a spot on Captain Paul McGinley’s European Ryder Cup squad for the matches in Gleneagles, Scotland.
“I'm going to do the efforts to get there,” Jimenez said in Malaysia. “I'm going to work for that. That is my goal … In the long terms, to the end of August, I will try to play my best and get a spot on the team. That would be a mission for me.”
Jimenez, nicknamed the Mechanic for his preference for driving fast cars, including his gleaming red Ferrari, became the oldest winner in European Tour history when he won the 2012 UBS Hong Kong Open aged 48 and 318 days.
Jimenez has won 30 times worldwide and has finished top 10 eight times in major championships, including at least once in each of the four grand slam events. His best is a T2 at the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach where Tiger Woods dominated. The next year, Jimenez tied for third in The Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St. Annes behind another American standout, David Duval.
Jimenez got his American campaign started this year at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play (lost in the first round to Bill Haas, 4-and-3) and the WGC-Cadillac Championship. At Doral, he opened with 70, added a third-round 69 and was on the periphery of contending before a T13 finish.
“I love feeling that knot in my stomach, I love it,” he said at Doral.
Jimenez resumes his U.S. schedule next week at Augusta National Golf Club, where he has three top-10 finishes in 2001, 2002 and 2008. Then he will drive a couple of hours north to TPC Sugarloaf.
Jimenez missed nearly five months of the 2013 European Tour season after breaking his right leg in a skiing accident in December, 2012. Once recovered, he continued to do what he has done since turning professional in 1982 - play golf at a high level and enjoy life at every turn. That makes him a candidate to be a perfect fit on the Champions Tour where life and golf are stress-free, if no less competitive – just the way Jimenez likes things.
“I always say the same thing,” Jimenez said. “The main thing is I love the game and I love to compete. Of course, I like to enjoy my life. I like to have the wine, have a glass of wine when I eat, and I like to smoke and enjoy myself, and I also like to work, because I don't mind.
“I love the game and I go to the driving range and I don't mind to spend one, two, three hours at a time I need to fix my swing and I don't mind to go out and play or spend my time on the putting green. And I go to the gym and I work because I need to be fit to compete with the guys -- you have to be happy with what you are doing.”
Jimenez has never been characterized as someone who spends inordinate amounts of time on his golf or fitness. But he knows what must be done.
“The more old you get, the more hard you need to work,” he said. “You need to have some cardio and you need to lose some weight to keep the strength of the muscle and the elasticity, because the older we get, the more stronger we get but not if you are lazy and sitting on the couch, you are getting old quickly. Just pushing things, pushing things, moving, stretch, walking, running, doing things, keep you alive and keep you happy.”
Nobody has ever accused Jimenez of not being happy.