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Home : Golf NewsBack to News

Jimenez wins second senior major

 

Miguel Angel Jimenez on Sunday became the first Spanish winner in the 31-year history of the Senior Open Championship when he edged out a tenacious defending champion Bernard Langer by a single shot.

Playing at the famous Old Course at St Andrew's, the colourfull 54-year-old dropped only one shot on his way to posting a final-round 3-under 69 and closing with a winning 12-under 276. 

Langer, seeking to win his fourth Senior Open title, shot a 68, but, in an intense encounter, he missed the chance to tie Jimenez and force a play-off when he put his approach more than 50 feet from the hole at the 18th to rule out his hopes of pulling off a last-minute birdie save.

In winning is sixth US PGA Champions title and his second over-50s major this year  - he won his first in the Regions Tradition in May - Jimenez followed in the footsteps of his long-time Spanish idol, the late Seve Ballesteros, who also triumphed at St Andrew's when he won The Open Championship there in 1984

Speaking from under a pair of bright blue sunglasses resting on his forehead and shortly after taking a quick puff of his victory cigar,  Jimenz said: "This is the place where everyone wants to win and the place where Seve won his second British Open. It has always been my ambition to win here. Now it feels like I am part of history.

"This is one of my biggest victories and Seve was a real inspiration throughout the years.

"When he won here I was 20 and serving 15 months National Service in the army, so there are no words to describe what I feel. To get my hands on this trophy in front of the fans and my friends and family is truly amazing. 

"All titles are very important, but a major, the Open, is even more special,” he said before praising the sportsmanship of Langer, who, somewhat ironically, was also a runner-up when Ballesteros won at St Andrew's.

“Bernard finished in the group in front of me and it so nice he waited to congratulate me. He’s a top player and a top-class person.” 

The Americans Kirk Triplett (69) and Scott McCarron (68) tied for third at 10-under alongside Canada's Stephen Ames (69).

Jimenz was quick to admit that his Open triumph hadn't come easily. In the end, he had to make a heart-stopping putt from all of nine feet on the final green before he could slowly raise his arms in a visible sign of the sheer relief he felt when the hole swallowed his putt

"I didn't play too good over the last few holes," he said. "I didn't hit many solid shots. I bogeyed the 13th and I missed short putts on both the 14th and 15th. At that stage, I was feeling the stress. My heart was really pumping very fast."

Langer, stone-faced until he graciously congratulated Jimenez with a genuinely warm smile, wasn't perfect either and might well have had cause to regret the three-putts he needed to complete the par-4 13th hole. 

It was his only bogey of the day and in the end, it made the difference between winning and losing.  

"Miguel played an awesome four days of golf, and he's a very well-deserved winner," said Langer.  

On a difficult day, the leaders could consider themselves lucky that the conditions they played in were nowhere near as bad as they were earlier in the day.

At its height, wind and rain turned the back-nine into a string of nightmarish par-5s on which, despite the late improvement in the conditions, the 72-man field were a collective 136-over par for the final round.

Earlier on Sunday Australian Peter Fowler, one of the bigger hitters in senior golf was short at the 465-yard 13th after a good drive and a full-blooded 3-wood. Two holes later in the wind and driving rain he was unable to reach the fairway on the 455-yard 15th with his best drive. 

Just three hours later, when the wind and rain had both diminished, Jimenez found both greens with mid-irons.

It was greatly disappointing for Tom Watson that he was one of the victims of some of that inclement weather. Playing what could well be his final competitive round at St. Andrews, the 68-year-old American, a five-time winner of the Open Championship and three-time a winner of the Senior event — could only shoot a closing 77 that dropped him down into a tie for 21st at 1-under.

The rousing send-off given him kept him smiling, though.

"As ever, the fans were really very good to me," he told reporters afterwards. "I gave it right back to them. I appreciate what they do for me. 

"This is a unique setting in golf, probably the most unique. You come into the town on the last hole and finish amongst all the buildings with the people hanging over the rails up there. There's no other place like it."

LEADING FINAL SCORES
(Par 72 - US player unless stated)

276 Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP) 68 67 72 69    
277 Bernard Langer (GER) 67 69 73 68
278 Scott McCarron 67 73 70 68, Stephe Ames (CAN) 66 69 74 69, Kirk Triplett 65 71 73 69
279 Marco Dawson 71 67 73 68, Tom Lehman  68 71 71 69, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 65 7 69 69, Tom Pernice Jnr 70 68 71 70
281 Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 70 70 70 71    
282 Jarmo Sandelin (SWE) 68 69 74 71    
284 Woody Austin 70 73 71 70, Billy Andrade 70 72 69 73 284 285 Jerry Kelly 74 67 72 72, Vijay Singhy (FIJ) 68 69 75 73, David McKenzie (AUS) 70 72 70 73, Colin Mongomerie (SCO) 71 68 72 74
286 Jesper Parnevic (SEW) 70 70 73 73, Paul McGinley (IRE) 66 73 72 75, Stephen Dodd (WAL) 72 69 70 75    
287 Fred Couples 71 72 73 71, Brandt Jobe 70 69 73 75, Tom Watson 69 68 73 77. 

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Neville Leck

Written by neville@golfweather.com.