Miguel Angel Jimenez leads Open dogfight

17:25, Jul 22 2013
Zach Johnson
Early first round leader Zach Johnson went five-under on the front nine.
Ian Poulter
Ian Poulter tries to use body English to move a putt during his first round.
Ian Poulter and Billy Horschel
Making a loud statement with their pants, Ian Poulter (left) and Billy Horschel.
Miguel Angel Jimenez
Miguel Angel Jimenez plays out of the bunker on the 18th hole.
David Lynn
English man David Lynn plays his second shot on the 11th hole.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello was the early clubhouse leader at four-under.
Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy
Jason Day
Jason Day ponders a putting line on the second hole.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods lines up a putt early in his first round at Muirfield.
Shiv Kapur
India's Shiv Kapur rose briefly to the lead during the first round.
Louis Oosthuizen
Louis Oosthuizen is taken from the course on a golf cart after withdrawing.
British Open at Muirfield
A view of the 13th hole at the Muirfield course.
Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood shakes hands with Charl Schwartzel after the completion of their second round.
Charl Schwartzel
Charl Schwartzel plays from the bunker near the 16th green.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods reacts after missing a birdie putt on the ninth hole in the second round.
Ryan Moore
Ryan Moore tees off on the par-three 16th hole.
DA Points
DA Points hacks out of the long grass as a freighter sails by behind him.
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia adjusts his cap after finishing his second round.
Nick Faldo
Nick Faldo hugs his caddie and son Matthew in what could be his last British Open round.
Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy waves at the crowd after rolling in a putt in his second round.
Miguel Angel Jimenez
Miguel Angel Jimenez lines up a putt during his second round.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
Rafael Cabrera-Bello plays from off the fairway in front of a sombrero-wearing spectator.
British Open Golf
Lee Westwood reacts after making a birdie putt on the 17th hole.
British Open Golf
Tiger Woods reacts after a wayward shot on the 15th during his third round.
British Open Golf
Angel Cabrera reacts after missing his par putt on the 18th.
British Open Golf
Adam Scott enjoys the fine weather as he walks along the 18th fairway.
2013 British Open
Phil Mickelson celebrates a birdie putt on the 18th hole.
2013 British Open
Lee Westwood was unable to build on his early form and claim his first Major win.
2013 British Open
Tiger Woods shakes hands with his former caddie Steve Williams, who now works with Adam Scott.
2013 British Open
Adam Scott was unable to build on early promise and win his second Major.

An Open win at Muirfield by Miguel Angel Jimenez could set golf back by 20 years.

Not because the Spaniard would be the oldest player ever to win a major championship.

But because his fitness regimen is so old school it involves little more than wine, cigars and a stretching routine that looks like a cross between pole dancing and baton twirling.

Miguel Angel Jimenez
DOG FIGHT: Wily Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez led the way as the British Open turned into a dogfight at Muirfield.

The 49-year-old walked off Muirfield late Friday afternoon at 3-under 139, leading the British Open by one stroke.

Asked whether he was feeling any additional pressure in pursuit of the one accomplishment that has eluded Jimenez throughout a distinguished 31-year pro career, he smiled.

"You have to do the same things that you do every day. You don't need to change anything. Just don't think about it," he said.

Advertisement

"As soon as I finish here and I leave the golf course, I'm just going to stay with my girlfriend, with my sons, and we're going to have a dinner, like I do every day.

"Don't need to do anything special. I'm leading, now I have to go to bed at 10 o'clock?"

The follow-up question naturally involved what time he planned to go to sleep.

"When I feel like it," Jimenez replied. "And especially after I smoke my cigar."

More than a few rivals in his position would have left the interview room and headed straight for the driving range to put in plenty of additional work.

Jimenez planned nothing tougher than hitting a few balls with his coach looking on. He'll do the same thing upon returning to the course Saturday morning, followed by a pre-round stretch that has to be seen to be appreciated.

"I'll actually arrive early to the course to watch it," Phil Mickelson said.

"He's one of those guys I like to ... watch and just kind of watch him move, you know, to see how he rolls."

Jimenez usually begins with a cigar between his lips and a bushy mane pulled back into a ponytail tucked beneath his cap.

First, he leans on a club and hunkers down for a few seconds. Next, he puts his knees together and rotates his hips for a few seconds more, clockwise and then counter-clockwise, as his ample gut sways side to side in rhythm. Next, he grabs two clubs and twirls them together, first with his right hand and then his left.

Lastly, Jimenez sticks the head of an iron beneath the sole of each shoe, one at a time, and extends his leg like a man about to stick his toe into a pool.

Skeptical that so little conditioning could unleash such scintillating golf - Jimenez followed up a nervy 68 on Thursday with an even-par 71 in faster, firmer conditions - a reporter asked whether he visited a trainer.

"Yeah, I had to go every morning. You know, I have my tennis elbow," Jimenez said. "I have to do that. And I have to stretch and I have to move early my body."

He was asked how long that usually takes.

"Half an hour," Jimenez replied. "Don't need more to warm up. As you see, I don't want to start lifting weights now."

That kind of irreverence might seem like an act, but it's proven very effective at Muirfield, where bad lies and quirky bounces test a golfer's demeanor.

Jimenez hasn't hit many fairways and greens in regulation - he was tied for 32nd and 80th in those categories, respectively, through two rounds. But he also was tied for the lead in scrambling to rescue pars (11 times), sand saves (he has gotten up and down the five times he has found bunkers) and alone in first in one-putts (17).

"Sometimes it's not about to make too many birdies," Jimenez said. "It's about not to make bogeys."

It's also about coping with nerves, something Jimenez mastered a long time ago. At his age, the definition of pressure - "anything that is important to you" - dovetails nicely with his definition of fun.

"Sometimes you can see me serious because of a situation, but having fun don't mean that you are falling on the ground and start laughing.

"Having fun is doing what you like to do in your life," Jimenez said finally. "And I do it."

Now he only has to do it for two more days.

Reuters