Miguel Angel Jimenez has been winning golf tournaments for longer than Jordan Spieth has been alive. He has finished inside the top-100 on the European Tour Order of Merit every year since 1989 (Spieth was born in 1993). This is a man who has spent his entire life at the top tier of golf, and yet there are no signs of a waning appetite for the game. A fourth in last year’s Masters and his desire to make the Ryder Cup team on merit is evidence, as if any were needed, that the 51-year-old is still desperate to compete with the kids – and fully capable of doing so.
How have you managed to remain competitive for so long?
It’s simple: because I love to compete. I feel like a fish in the water when I’m competing. Playing golf is my life. I’m going to keep playing as long as I’m still alive. Golf is something I want to do all my life. If you don’t want to be here when you’re 50, you shouldn’t be here at all. Technology helps too, of course, but if you don’t know how to hit the ball, technology does nothing.
Your warm-up routine has become legendary…
The fans like to see that. It’s probably a little funny to watch, but it helps to move the joints. At 50, it’s difficult to be here if you are not working out somehow. You need to be flexible and you need to be elastic and strong to be here. The main thing is I never get injured.
That’s true. What advice would you give to younger golfers who seem to pick up injuries quite regularly these days?
You need to exercise to be strong, healthy and flexible, but you have to know your limits. Don’t try to double your size. The human body is not meant to be put under that stress for such a long time. Enjoy what you are doing, exercise, but don’t overdo it.
How keen are you on the Champions Tour, given you are still competing on the main tours?
50 came too early for me, that’s the way I feel. When the time comes that I must move full-time to the Champions Tour, I will do that, but right now I feel like I want to play on both sides. I feel competitive and like I can keep going with the younger players.
You seem to love the Ryder Cup – how big an event is it for you?
That is the event. The Americans play in the Ryder Cup and want to win, but for us Europeans it’s more important than anything. For us, it’s a different feeling. Everyone in professional golf should want to be there.
Do you have an eye on the captain’s role in the future?
Of course, I would love to. I’ve played it several times, I’ve been a vice-captain several times, and I would absolutely love to be the captain. I’m 51 now and I don’t know if I can make the team as a player, but I can probably be vice-captain for the next one and hope I can get the captaincy for the one after that.
You recently bagged your 10th hole-in-one on Tour – is it skill or luck?
There is no luck. The luck here is that golf is something that I really enjoy doing. Some people work at places, but want to be doing a different thing with their life. These golf courses are my office. I don’t want to do anything different with my life.
You seem to be one of the happiest guys on Tour – what’s your secret?
I think it’s better to be happy than not. The happiness comes when a lot of things come together. Things like family, friends, the people in your neighbourhood, jobs and so on – it’s a combination of everything. I’m doing what I like to do in my life. That’s given me money, given me life, given me happiness.