53-year old young lad Miguel Angel Jiménez started his professional career as a mechanic. In 1979, a caddy earning as much as 300 pesetas a month, he dropped the screwdrivers for the golf bags. He only joined the European Tour in 1988. Today with nearly 30 wins worldwide, Champions Tour included, and multiple Ryder Cup winner, the man from Málaga is a giant, almost a living legend, unmissable with his ponytail and an everlasting cigar in the corner of his lips. He was at Las Colinas to open the fine Short Game Facility he designed and where most of the Q School II players will train their skills between two rounds. We’ve spent in fine moment with him.
How old were you when you’ve reached 0 handicap?
I’ve never been an amateur…I was a caddy and picked up golf when I was fifteen. At that time, caddies couldn’t play with amateurs but only with pros just to acquire enough experience and knowhow. But no money, no rewards.
When did you get your first pesetas playing golf?
In 1980 at one of the Costa del Sol local tournaments where, next to the pros, there was some prize money for the assistant pros division.
Bad minded people say that you have acquired your golf knowhow through internet?
That’s poor. When I’ve started golfing, internet didn’t exist and the pictures were still in black and white… No, I’ve learned my golf with one of my seven brothers, then playing and playing again and again. Today the young generation can open the internet to find anything, any assistance, any explanation of what’s good or bad in their swing. It’s another world.
Golf magazines often publish pages with strips of images depicting your swing or some other famous players. Are there of any help for the average golfer?
Not really because the reader is smaller or taller, slimmer, heavier than the example illustrated. A swing can’t be the same for everyone, but the fundamentals, the basics are and that should be the first concern of the reader. Correct posture, address, grip… That’s the most important.
Many male golfers don’t appreciate women’s golf…
They’re wrong. It’s a beautiful and great show. Unfortunately it’s already difficult to draw a men’s tour but it’s quite tougher when it comes to women. I don’t know how to sort out this regretful situation. There must be someone somewhere able to revamp the Ladies European Tour. These girls deserve it. Anyhow, golf should be shown more often on public TV networks instead of private costly channels. That’s the way – perhaps the only one – to promote and bring more people to golf.
The Senior European Tour isn’t exactly a success compared to the Champions Tour in America.
You say Senior Tour because you’re polite. There’s no senior European Tour really organized as such. I don’t know the way out. I don’t know how to bring (back) the sponsors. I hope Keith Pelley, the new European Tour pundit, will soon act.
Do you know where you’ll be playing in 2018?
More or less, I can enter any senior major because of my various standings. To be part of the Open Championship at Carnoustie I’ll have now to qualify. And I don’t know yet what I’ll do. For the rest, I believe I’m still totally exempted on the European Tour, but one thing is sure: my playing program will depend on the Champions Tour schedule. It’s my Tour now.
How long will you be playing both the regular tours and the Champions?
As far as I can compete with the young generation. The day I’ll feel that I can’t play at their level, it will be ‘Hasta luego amigos”.
And the Ryder Cup as Captain?
Forget it. It’s too late. A Captain should still be playing competitive golf on the regular tour to be in touch – week in week out – with the possible future Ryder Cup team members. That’s the only way to know who’s who, who are good friends, who play the same ball, etc. Joining these guys only on an irregular basis, this job isn’t for me anymore. Period.
Do you think Spanish Golf will erect your statue one day in Málaga?
(Big laugh) Ask the Spanish Federation for that one… PPH
Images: Patrick Jantet