Miguel Ángel Jiménez hopes playing with a couple of fellow Spanish speakers will help his defence of the BMW PGA Championship this week.
Jiménez has been paired with fellow Spaniard José Maria Olazábal and Argentina’s the Masters Tournament winner Angel Cabrera for the first two rounds at Wentworth Club, where the 45 year old will look to join an elite group along with Colin Montgomerie and Nick Faldo of players who have retained the trophy.
“It is obviously nice to be back here to Wentworth,” said Jiménez. “It's the most prestigious tournament on The European Tour, and always nice to be there, since I first started on The European Tour, I was looking forward to playing in this tournament.
“And then, after 20 years on the Tour, I won last year after being for a few years in contention for the tournament. This week, try to defend my title and try to do my best again in this fabulous golf course.
“It's a perfect pairing, Spanish speaking pairing, that's nice. We are all three very close friends. Last night we were talking about that at the dinner, ‘hey, we are going to play together’. We are going to have better communication because we are all Spanish speaking.”
Last season’s victory over Oliver Wilson in a play-off helped Jiménez to equal his career best finish of fourth on The European Tour Order of Merit. And first place in the €4,500,000 event this week would significantly improve the 15-time European Tour tournament winner’s current standing of 36th in The Race to Dubai.
“I am hitting okay,” added Jiménez. “This is my 21st season on the Tour, and I'll tell you one thing, I hit it longer than ever. I'm 45 and I'm still liking the golf and I'm still pretty competitive when I play with the younger players.
“It’s always nice to be in contention with all of these young kids and all of these good performances. The good thing about this golf course is you need to play well. It's not only about hit it, wedge and a putt - it's about positioning the ball in the right place.”
One of the younger players coming through the ranks to challenge senior players like Jiménez is Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.
The 20 year old made his Wentworth debut last season and missed the cut, but much has changed for McIlroy in the last 12 months. Not only did he win his first European Tour title at the Dubai Desert Classic, but he has established himself in the top 20 of the World Golf Rankings.
“My debut here wasn't the best - I shot a couple of rounds in the mid 70s and missed the cut,” said McIlroy.
“I'm looking forward to it. There's been a little bit of rain over the weekend, and that will probably make the greens putt a little better, nice and smooth. It's nice to come here and not have 40 mile an hour winds and rain in your face from last week.
“I think the layout is fantastic. It's a great golf course, it's tree lined and it's got a lot of definition. I struggled on it last year a little bit with chipping on to the greens and stuff. I found it a little difficult, but hopefully this year, as I said, a little bit of rain at the weekend, the greens will be a little more consistent.”
Jiménez’s playing partner Cabrera is another player who knows what it takes to succeed at Wentworth Club, having won the event in 2005.
“I have great memories from here, from Wentworth. I've had a lot of success here, and just seems that this course I like to play, and I enjoy very much playing,” said the two-time Major Champion.
Paul Casey could climb to third in the World Rankings with victory on Sunday, and the Englishman admits to having half an eye on improving his standings on both the World Golf Rankings and The Race to Dubai.
He said: “A great field, lots of World Ranking points, and the goal this week is obviously to play very good golf and give myself a chance to grab some points, some World Ranking points, some Race to Dubai points and I would dearly love to give myself a chance to win this thing and win a BMW event.”
Last year’s runner-up Wilson insists it is just a matter of time before he captures his maiden title, having had a series of second place finishes since his play-off heartache at the hands of Jiménez.
“I think I played well enough to win last year,” he said. “Obviously Miguel played great coming down the stretch last year and pipped me, but a place I'm excited about trying to play well.
“I've done the right things and just have to keep doing the same things that I have been doing, and hopefully that will be enough next time.”