by Jeff Skinner
Saturday at the Open Championship saw plenty of carnage coming down the stretch. Players in the afternoon wave were sliding down the leaderboard as the tough Muirfield course turned even more difficult as the afternoon sun baked the already dry links.
First round leader Zach Johnson, after falling out of the lead early in his round had worked his way back into the lead at -5 only to go four over par over his last six holes and drop down into a tie for sixth.
Two time major winner, Angel Cabrera, who always seems to show up come major time, had a share of the lead but he fell victim to the steadily stiffening Muirfield and stumbled coming in with three bogeys over his last five holes. He also was tied for sixth and looking up at an improbable leader of the 142nd Open Championship, Miguel Angel Jimenez.
The happy go-lucky Jimenez had the good fortune to be finished with his par round before Muirfield turned five more shades of brown and the wind picked up. By the time Cabrera and Johnson were trading blows down the back nine Jimenez was on his second cigar and first bottle of wine. Or was it first cigar and second bottle of wine?
Either way “The Mechanic” as he is known was off the course and able to move up the leaderboard as Muirfield separated the men from their birdies. It was a tough day for most but you couldn’t tell from the way Jimenez carries himself. He is one of the true characters in the world of golf and the 49 year old has earned the respect and admiration of fans and players alike.
Long before he started to be referred to as “The Most Interesting Man in the World” as those Dos Equis beers ads made the scene, we at Links Life Golf had christened him “The Coolest Guy in Golf.” He was then…he is now.
Back in 2009 we were able to ask Miguel some question and true to his nature he was humble and embarrassed we called him the Coolest Guy in Golf. “Am I the coolest guy on Tour” he asked, “I am sure some of the young guys must be much cooler than I am!” We disagreed then… we disagree now.
We asked him how he stays so relaxed on the course,” I try to remain as relaxed as possible both on and off the golf course. That is just my character, and perhaps the cigar before I tee off helps a little too.”
He essentially said the same thing today. He loves what he does, and it shows. “Enjoy yourself and what you do in life. That’s what I’m doing. I love what I’m doing. I play golf. I do this for a living. And I’ve kept doing the same thing for 25 years. Probably sometime you say you say if I think maybe it’s too many years but you’re wrong. It’s the only thing I like to do. I enjoy myself.” And we enjoy watching him do it.
Miguel has an aura about himself that just makes him so special, so cool. Kelly Tilghman of the Golf Channel had a Tweet today that described Miguel’s persona to a tee,” Women want him, young men admire him, old men want to be him.” That’s perfect, that’s how we feel about Miguel.
He’s James Bond, Sean Connery, Tom Brady and Miles Davis rolled into one…the coolest of the cool.
In that 2009 interview I asked him if he thought the Open Championship was his best chance at a major. “I would be absolutely delighted with any victory in a Major, and The Open Championship would be special, particularly with its great history. Actually I have pretty good record over the years round Augusta at The Masters so who knows, maybe that could be the one?”
I wonder how he feels about that question now.