After returning from serious injury in barnstorming fashion this season, ever-popular Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez says he feels ready to take on the new generation at the US PGA Championship.
Jiménez broke his leg in a skiing accident over the Christmas break, a blow that ruled him out of the first four months of the 2013 season, but after an intensive rehabilitation programme the Malaga native quickly regained the rhythm that has won him 19 European Tour titles during a stellar career.
The 49 year old tied for fourth at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in his second tournament back, and last month finished tied 13th in The Open Championship at Muirfield after a superb start had earlier put him in contention.
Coming into the season’s final Major Championship at Oak Hill Country Club, New York, Jiménez again looks in fine fettle following a tied fourth place at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, thanks in part to an excellent 65 in the third round, and says he has the game to compete in Rochester.
“I’m playing very well from tee to green, and last week some putts dropped in the hole, which gave me some low scores and a good result. That’s what you need to do at this level and I think and hope I can do that again this week,” said Jiménez, whose best finish at the US PGA is tied tenth place at the 1999 edition at Medinah Country Club.
Jiménez became the oldest winner in European Tour history when he captured the 2012 UBS Hong Kong Open aged 48 years and 318 days and says that his recovery from the injury is wholly thanks to a continued commitment to his physical conditioning, despite edging ever closer to his sixth decade.
With the past three seasons yielding three Major winners in their 40s, most recently 43 year old Phil Mickelson after his magical triumph at Muirfield in The Open Championship last month, Jiménez is not content to let the younger generation run the rule over the more seasoned competitors just yet.
“I’m not surprised,” he said of his successful comeback from injury. “You never know what’s going to happen, but I’ve worked extremely hard to get back to where I was before the skiing accident. I’ve put in a lot of effort on my leg, my physical fitness and on my game to get back as quickly as possible.
“I work in the gym every morning. The older you get, the more important it is to stay fit, stay flexible, stay strong and warm up properly before every round or practice session. Every day I give one hour to my body, making sure it is prepared to be able to compete alongside these young players.”
Having always balanced his fitness zeal with a zest for life and its finer things, ‘El Mecanico’ says he will not be changing anything of the approach that has reaped great rewards over the last 30 years.
“If you look after yourself you can enjoy some other things in life,” Jiménez added, with that familiar Spanish smile, “much like I do – cigars, good wine and good food.”