British Open leader Miguel Angel Jimenez keeps life on light side

Miguel Angel Jimenez, the cigar-smoking 49-year-old Spaniard, is trying to become the oldest winner of a major championship. Jimenez leads by one shot at Muirfield.

GULLANE, Scotland — A win here 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.

The 49-year-old walked off Muirfield late Friday afternoon at 3-under 139, leading the British Open over four others by a 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. As soon as I finish here and I leave the golf course,” he said. “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?”

“What time will you go to bed?” came a follow-up question.

“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 this 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.”

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.”

“For how long?” came yet another follow-up. “How many minutes?”

“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.

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

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


Miguel Angel Jimenez has 19 European Tour titles but is still searching for his first major after 56 starts. He did not play in the Masters Tournament or U.S. Open this year while he was recovering from a broken leg.