2004: No debate: Jimenez top dog

Portimao, Portugal

In making a case for who the top player in Europe is these days, Miguel Angel Jimenez has two very strong pieces of evidence working in his favor.

Jimenez, after shooting 67 April 4 to win the Algarve Open by two shots, leads the PGA European Tour’s Order of Merit and also sits atop the Ryder Cup European points list.

“It is very important for me to get in the Ryder Cup,” Jimenez said of his chances for making it to the 35th staging of the event Sept. 17-19 at Oakland Hills Country Club in suburban Detroit. “The sensations you get at that tournament are something amazing.

“The spirit is different, something special, and I would love to be there.”

The victory at Le Meridien Penina Resort was the 40-year-old Spainard’s ninth European Tour triumph in 360 events. It was also his second this season – making him the first multiple winner of 2004.

Jimenez birdied two of the last three holes to keep Australian Terry Price at bay. He earned 208,330 euros (approximately $252,275) to move past Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke at the top of the Order of Merit. Jimenez has earned 514,092 euros this season, to Clarke’s 449,122.

“The most important thing is that I played very well, consistently, all week,” said Jimenez, who moved from No. 87 to No. 74 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. “If I missed a shot, I always recovered.”

One of Jimenez’s most important recoveries came after making bogey on No. 13 Sunday to fall into a tie for the lead with Price. It was Jimenez’s third bogey in four rounds, but he righted the ship, made pars on Nos. 14 and 15, then birdied Nos. 16 and 18 to win by two shots.

“I knew Terry Price finished at 14 under par,” Jimenez said. “I was 15 under, then made bogey and that happens. But I never got nervous and fortunately made two (birdies) coming in.”

Nerves of steel. Sounds like the top dog talking.

– Staff and wire reports

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