Cigar-smoking Jimenez lighting up the fairways at 50

The Spaniard has certainly earned his well-chronicled indulgences after showing the form of his life in recent months.
Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain celebrates with the trophy after winning the Open de Espana held at PGA Catalunya Resort on May 18, 2014 in Girona, Spain. Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Getty Images
Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain celebrates with the trophy after winning the Open de Espana held at PGA Catalunya Resort on May 18, 2014 in Girona, Spain. Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Getty Images

Those familiar with the lore and legend will have no trouble envisioning the anecdote.

A couple of years ago, during the World Golf Championships event at Doral in Miami, Miguel Angel Jimenez wandered into the resort’s workout room one morning, a gym bag slung over his shoulder.

Jimenez dutifully logged a few minutes on the treadmill, towelled off, then reached into his bag to retrieve one of his trademark cigars, which he promptly placed in his mouth as he headed back to his room.

Clean living has its limits.

Now age 50 and playing better than ever, Jimenez has certainly earned his well-chronicled indulgences.

Of late, the European Tour bon vivant has been firing up plenty of victory stogies, not to mention lighting up the Ryder Cup points list.

Last weekend, he claimed the Spanish Open title in front of a partisan crowd, recording his 21st European Tour victory, which ranks 10th on the circuit’s all-time win chart.

The Spanish veteran has had an incredible spring, personally and professionally, particularly since he is supposedly in the autumn of his career.

The victory last Sunday established him as the tour’s oldest winner, the first to log multiple victories this season and one of the obvious favourites at the BMW PGA Championship, which starts today.

His itinerary would make a younger man wheeze. Though he has expressed little interest in playing with the older set – he is exempt in Europe through 2016 – Jimenez won in his US Champions Tour debut on April 18.

A few days earlier, the former US Open runner-up finished fourth at the Masters. Three weeks ago, on the grounds of his golf academy in Spain, he married girlfriend Susanna Styblo.

The victory last weekend boosted him to 25th in the world ranking and within reach of making his fourth Ryder team in September.

So, winning his first Spanish Open title, in his 27th attempt, was merely the latest in a series of turn-back-the-clock moments.

“There’s no words to describe what it means,” he said last weekend. “You need to be in my skin, but I’m not going to let you.”

He is plenty comfortable in his own skin, as anybody who has witnessed his hilarious stretching routine on the practice tee can attest.

Then there is his gel-laden hair, which Golf Digest compared to a Halloween “fright wig”.

Forget convention, though, since Jimenez clearly does things his own way. What comes next?

“I think Miguel could win a major, to be honest,” Italy’s Matteo Manassero said.

selling@thenational.ae

Published: May 21, 2014 04:00 AM

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