Blog
09
December
No middle-age crisis' for Bjørn or Jiménez
By: Ross Starkey

It is interesting that some players can find a level in golf well into their forties that they failed to find at a younger age. Jiménez remains competitive with 13 wins after his 40th birthday compared to just 7 wins in the first 22 years of his professional career.

Conversely Nick Faldo, who won six major titles, couldn't cross the finishing post in first place after he'd turned 39 and quickly dropped off the radar soon after. The same was true for major winners Ian Woosnam and Jose Maria Olazábal, both winless after they hit 39.

Yet Vijay Singh, still playing on the PGA Tour at the age of 50, has won 22 times on the PGA Tour whilst in his forties. And Phil Mickelson looks set to perform similar age-defying performances with five wins since turning 40 three years ago.

Perhaps the answer lies in genetics or diet, maybe Jiménez practices yoga in between puffs on his cigar and glasses of vintage Rioja. Whatever his secret is (and we can only await his biography for the answers) there will be many players looking up at the scoreboards with of envy at the carefree winning style of the man they call 'The Mechanic'.

Bjorn is looking to follow suit, he went quiet without ever disappearing off the golfing map, maintaining form and results despite going winless for the first two years of his forties. At the height of his career the Dane should have had at least one Open Championship in 2003. He was even overtaken as leading Danish golfer last year by Thorbjørn Oleson. But two wins in three months on the European Tour has seen Bjørn rise back up to number 25 in the world.

Whatever these players have got, they need to bottle and sell to the millions of men in their forties unfulfilled and unhappy.

According to various studies, when a man enters his forties, it represents the lowest point of his life in terms of depression, well-being, anxiety and life satisfaction. One study compared the lives of over 2 million men found real evidence to suggest that middle-age is the worst age. According to the study's author:

"My best conjecture is that people eventually learn to quell their infeasible aspirations, they manage to get their expectations into line with what they can actually achieve. If you are finding life tough in your 40s, maybe it's useful to know this is completely normal."

Perhaps Jiménez and Bjørn have accepted their own (un)limitations, perhaps Lee Westwood will go the same way as Faldo or Woosnam and fall gracefully but quickly from the top. Even Els realises he cannot compete with the best every time he tees it up, but like Jiménez and Bjørn, he knows he can still be good enough on any given week to win.

They aren't alone either, amongst the top 50 players in the world seven are over forty, including Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Lee Westwood, Jim Furyk and Ernie Els. Being over forty isn't seen as a hindrance anymore. Players know the importance of fitness, eating better, and swing mechanics. We might just have four or five of them playing in the Ryder Cup next year too.