by Jeff Skinner
The European Tour is off to a great start this year. The tournaments have been exciting and have showcased some of its best players. One of the most unique characters on The European Tour took home one of the most unique trophies this week. At The Dubai Desert Classic, Miguel Angel Jimenez out lasted European Tour number one, Lee Westwood in a three hole playoff to show that some things get better with age. “Like a good wine, with age, I get better and better” he said after his win.
Jimenez is forty six years old and shows no signs of fading away. This win is his first since he won twice in 2008 and continues to prove that an older player with years of experience can use guile and craftiness to still compete with the young guns on tour. Miguel first appeared on tour in 1988 and his contemporaries included Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Ian Woosnam and Bernhard Langer, who are long gone from the tour. To illustrate Miguel’s staying power you need not look past his first round pairing. He played the first two rounds with twenty year old Rory McIlroy and twenty three year old Pablo Martin. “Guys like Rory McIlroy and Alvaro Quiros hit the ball so long; it’s difficult for guys like me. But here I am.” McIlroy finished in sixth place and Martin tied for forty fourth. Miguel needs to find space for his sixteenth European Tour Trophy.
Jimenez has always appreciated the finer things in life and is known to enjoy wine more than most fellows on tour. He has also is smart enough to realize that he needs to keep himself in good physical condition to stay on tour. Don’t let that gut fool you; Jimenez spends enough time in the gym to keep himself in shape as he proves with him still being a factor on tour. He has rededicated himself to a new fitness program and it looks to have paid off early this year.
Jimenez’s attitude on tour may be as big a factor in his success as his skills and experience. He is as determined a competitor as there is out there, but rarely lets a poor shot or a bad round stick with him or affect his play. That’s not to say he doesn’t show emotion. He’ll smash the turf or flip the putter with the best of them but he loses the frustration long before his next shot.
With Tom Watson’s near miss at The Open Championship last year proving that “the old dudes” can still get it done, wouldn’t it be sweet if Watson and Miguel could be paired together at The Masters. That’s a pairing with plenty of class and experience and the two of them could show what a little experience can do. Jimenez has three top tens at Augusta and he’ll be forty six. Maybe lighting could strike twice for another forty six year old as it did for Jack Nicklaus back in 1986.