Blog
20
May
The Open Secret of Jimenez's Success
By: Ross Starkey

In golf we would love to have the youth of Rory McIlroy, the talent of Sergio Garcia, be as cocksure as Ian Poulter and as successful as Tiger Woods. But secretly, when we hit fifty we probably harbour a desire to be just like Jimenez.

Its hard to decide what to love best about him. Is it that his love for golf gets deeper the older he gets? His warmup routine even? Is it his love of Bentleys and Ferraris (hence his nickname, The Mechanic), or his unashamed appreciation for cigars and Rioja? Or is it that he still competes with golfers thirty years more youthful AND beats them?

It is all those things and more because Jimenez represents something bigger than the game itself - he balances that fine tightrope of successful golf, lover of life and acceptance of himself. Recently married, he doesn't work himself with hours of gym work and he doesn't appear to limit his menu choice either.

While Tiger Woods has pushed his body and talent to its limits and to breaking point, can we see him still winning on tour in twelve or thirteen years time? Meanwhile Jimenez who recognises the importance of golf/life balance continues to win after entering his sixth decade.

Its hard to believe that Jiminez doesn't indulge in a glass of wine the day before a tournament, or that he's the type of guy to abstain from sex the night before a final round either (a clue to Tiger Woods's success pre-2010).

Jimenez won't suffer from playing too much golf, he manages his schedule as well as anyone else in the game. His recent foray into the Champions Tour, a week after finishing fourth at The Masters had more to do with preparation for the Senior Open Championship at Royal Porthcawl in July than any decision to join the Champions Tour.

It suggests he is very much goal-oriented and has openly stated his desire to make the Ryder Cup Team for Gleneagles September. It is a place that looks like more assured than that of the the 'cocky' Poulter right now too.

But his ability to take life as it comes is his greatest asset. After becoming the oldest winner on the European Tour in November 2012 at 48, the very next month he broke his leg while skiing in the Sierra Nevada. His statement summed up a faultless philosophy on life and golf:

“It will take me three, four or five months to fully recover and play again at a competitive level,' he said, 'I have been playing well but that's just the way it goes in life.”

Within twelve months of his leg break he had successfully defended his Hong Kong Open and extended his own record of oldest winner on tour.

Five of his last seven victories on tour have come through a playoff, highlighting his competitive nature. It must be hard competing with Jimenez in playoffs when he appears to have little fear of losing, ”that's just the way it goes in life”.

But more significantly is that his passion for winning remains. Entering the Open de España for the 27th time last week, he won it - in a playoff - on one of the toughest courses on the European Tour. And that open secret was there to see as he celebrated his success, not by heading straight back home, but by sharing a drink with the staff and members in the clubhouse at PGA Catalunya. For Jimenez, the more you enjoy it, the more it will last.