Miguel Angel Jiménez, the oldest winner in the history of The European Tour, celebrated his 50th birthday on Sunday by declaring his intention to compete in The Senior Open Championship which tees off at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club 200 days from now.
The popular Spaniard (pictured) remains a potent force at the very highest level of the game, claiming his 20th European Tour win in last month’s Hong Kong Open to extend his own record as the European Tour’s oldest champion.
It was Jiménez’s 13th European Tour victory beyond the age of 40 – another record - and he is aiming to become Europe’s oldest Ryder Cup player by earning a place in Paul McGinley’s team at Gleneagles in September.
However, as he marks the start of his sixth decade today – not by celebrating in style in Malaga, but by flying to South Africa for this week’s Volvo Golf Champions tournament -the four-time Ryder Cup player has revealed that he will take time out of his busy European Tour schedule to make his debut in The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex, from July 24-27.
Jiménez made his last Ryder Cup appearance in 2010 at The Celtic Manor Resort, where he also won the Celtic Manor Wales Open in 2005, and he will now return to Wales when the country hosts its first Senior Major Championship, joining some of golf’s most iconic names at the South Wales links course.
“I'm looking forward to playing my first Senior Major at Royal Porthcawl” he said. “I hear it's a great golf course and I am really looking forward to playing there for the first time. I was checking the Internet to see where it is. About 20 minutes from Cardiff and on the coast – perfect venue!”
Having enjoyed so much success in his 40s, Jiménez admits to having mixed feelings about reaching senior age, but he is also looking forward to trying to become the first European winner of The Senior Open since Bernhard Langer in 2010.
“Oh my goodness, am I really 50?” he said in mock indignation. “I can’t believe time has passed so fast. It seems just like yesterday that I got my Tour card and then – five, ten, 25 years have passed so quickly.
“Now, in my 26th season, I am a rookie again – the young man in the field at the Senior Open. It will be nice to see some familiar faces from the old days but I don’t know if they are going to like seeing me competing against them! “
Jiménez has enjoyed some close calls in Major Championships as a popular member of the European Tour, but he has no preference when it comes to the Majors on the other side of 50. He added: “It’s always nice to win a Major, whatever Tour I am on. I am just looking forward to this chance to win one on either Tour. I don’t want to leave my life on the European Tour but I am going to enjoy my other life in senior golf as well.”
To recognise Miguel’s milestone birthday, the pre-Christmas ticket offer for The 2014 Senior Open Championship has been extended by two weeks. That means golf fans booking before Jan 16 can enjoy large savings, with season tickets costing just £60 – a 25 per cent saving on the gate price of £80. One day tickets purchased before the deadline cost £20, a saving of £10 on the gate price, while Wednesday practice day tickets are also available at the reduced price of £10, a saving of £5 on the gate price. Under 16s are admitted for free when accompanied by an adult and parking is also free.
Andy Stubbs, Managing Director of the European Senior Tour, said: “Miguel Angel Jiménez is one of the most popular figures in European golf and we are delighted that he has confirmed his participation in this year’s Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex at Royal Porthcawl.
“It already promises to be a special week when Wales hosts its first Senior Major Championship and Miguel’s presence in the field, in a country where he has already enjoyed some memorable moments, will certainly add to the sense of occasion.”
*Tickets for The 2014 Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex can be bought online via www.senioropengolf.com or by calling 0800 0232557.