Jiminez Wins PGA Champs
Oakley’s Miguel Angel Jimenez took a mammoth cigar from his mouth before proclaiming that his win in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth felt "great". At 44, he had played some of the finest golf of his life as he came from four shots back to defeat the 27-year-old Oliver Wilson at the second extra hole.
The Spaniard is the oldest winner of the event. He has shot to the top of the European Order of Merit and he is in the same position in the European Ryder Cup points table. With regard to which, he had told Nick Faldo at the start of the week: "I hope I make your team for Valhalla." Faldo replied: “I hope you do, too.”
Jimenez got off on the right foot yesterday, making a par at the first where Robert Karlsson, the overnight leader, made par. He then notched a birdie at the third where Robert Karlsson landed a bogey and, two holes later, he more or less finished the Swede off altogether when he made a hole in one to his par.
It is not difficult to imagine how Karlsson must have felt as he trailed Jimenez up that hole, with the crowds applauding the easy-going Spaniard. Jimenez sorted out his pitch mark – it was six feet away – before plucking his ball from the hole and giving it a kiss. He then attempted to throw his ball into the crowd, only now he was rather less accurate than he had been from the tee, leaving it 15 feet short of the spectator roping.
Wilson, who has had three second-place finishes in his last five starts, had an eight-footer to take the title at the first extra hole but his ball hit the hole and sped past.
When they returned to what was the 18th tee in a second attempt to work things out, Wilson drove into the rough and could not reach the green in two. Jimenez, on the other hand, made it to the putting surface and his birdie was more or less secure when Wilson missed his 15-footer for a matching four.
Wilson, still rueing a six at the 17th, or 71st, was soon persuaded that it was no bad performance to have come second in such an important event. “I’m a little bit disappointed but I’ll be back next year,” he promised.
When, at the 2004 Ryder Cup, the players were asked about their specific requirements, Jimenez, whose last Ryder Cup appearance that was, opted for “Rioja wine, an espresso machine – and cigars”.
Even if that sounds at odds with Faldo’s call for would-be Ryder Cup men to head off for fitness assessments, it is easy to see why Faldo would welcome Jimenez. He is, after all, an experienced older hand at a time when Colin Montgomerie is looking as if he might not make it.
By way of signing off, Jimenez paid a special tribute to Thomas Bjorn who, on learning that the Spaniard’s Ryder Cup watch from 2004 had been stolen, insisted on giving him his. Bjorn, for the record, was an assistant captain on that occasion.