Miguel Angel Jimenez could become oldest major winner ever
Featured Open Championship PGA Championship

Miguel Angel Jimenez could become oldest major winner ever

It's fitting that Miguel Angel Jimenez leads the 2013 Open Championship after two rounds. At 49, he is aging like a good Spanish wine he so loves.

At 3-under 139, Jimenez leads a host of world-class players by a shot at Muirfield, including world No. 1 Tiger Woods, former No. 1 Lee Westwood and the resurgent Henrik Stenson. Phil Mickelson lurks. So does the age antithesis of the Mechanic, Jordan Spieth, who is just four shots off the lead at the age of 19.

After 25 years as a professional and notching top-1o finishes in all four major championships, this is Jimenez's best chance to finally win the big one.

So, does he feel pressure? Yes. In fact, he enjoys it.

"Being on top of this major championship field makes you feel a lot of pressure but that's what I like to feel," he said Friday after his second-round 71. "I like to feel the pressure. As long as you can handle that, it's no problem. I feel comfortable."

Cigars, wine, globetrotting, beautiful women and golf. Is this guy James Bond or what? Bond wishes his day job was as good as what Jimenez does.

"Enjoy yourself in what you do in life," the Spaniard said. "That's the secret, and 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."

Jimenez has lived his life to the fullest. He's thrown caution to the wind in most things he does. He's smoked more than his fair share of cigars -- not exactly life-extending behavior. He broke his leg in December in a skiing accident and came back to golf when he felt ready, perhaps too soon.

At 49, while more than satisfied with his personal and professional life, he's stumbled on something new to potentially enjoy: the Claret Jug. He scoffs at the notion that he's too old to finish the job.

He asked rhetorically, "Why? Have I not the right to do it? Is it only the young people who can do that?"

No, though it's been 45 years -- almost Jimenez's entire life -- since someone as old as him has won a major title.

Julius Boros won the 1968 PGA Championship at 48 years of age. But he was a young 48 by golf standards. Boros didn't turn pro until he was 29. By comparison to many of his peers, he had nearly a decade less wear-and-tear on his body.

He arguably had his best season the year before, winning three times in 1967 and posting top-five finishes in the two majors he finished (he didn't play in the Open Championship and had to withdraw from the U.S. Open). A year later at Pecan Valley G.C. in Texas, Boros improved every round, posting a 1-over total that was good enough to top Arnold Palmer and Bob Charles by a shot.

Boros also beat Palmer as part of a playoff for the 1963 U.S. Open. Were it not for the late-blooming, Connecticut-born Boros, Palmer might have nine major titles. Boros, an accountant by training, was the fitting foil to the man of the people who went for broke.

The Hungarian-born, three-time major winner didn't stop there, either. He contended in the U.S. Open at age 53, finishing T-7 at Oakmont C.C.

The '68 PGA, played deep in Texas in the last week of July, was tough. Oakmont is as tough as they come. Boros, who grew up the song of a farmer and a pugilist, was tough. But Boros' golf style was anything but, described in a 1968 Sports Illustrated piece as serene, relaxed and placid. The rhythm of his swing improved with age, to the disbelief of his peers. Boros found a pace -- on and off the course -- that worked for him. Sound familiar?

Jimenez works to minimize the damage golf can do to an aging man with his version of the food pyramid and a pre-round stretching routine that is uniquely his, drawing gawkers and admirers on driving ranges around the world.

On the longest of golf courses, Jimenez's lack of prodigious length hinders him. At the oldest of majors, however, distance rarely matters -- only proximity. And Jimenez is again close at the Open. He finished T-9 a year ago. He was tied for fifth through 54 holes in 2011. In fact, Jimenez has more top-15 finishes in The Open Championship since 2007 (3) than the rest of his career (1).

Boros thrived in finding the balance between being a husband, part-time angler, trained accountant and world-class golfer. The formula isn't exactly the same for Jimenez, but he has found his own personal harmony.

Maybe then that's why it sounded as though Jimenez was channeling Boros on Friday.

"What is pressure?" Boros asked in the spring of '68. "Pressure is many things to many people."

For both Boros and Jimenez, pressure is fun.

About the author


Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]thegolfnewsnet.com

Ryan occasionally links to merchants of his choosing, and GNN may earn a commission from sales generated by those links. See more in GNN's affiliate disclosure.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment