Tait: Jimenez keeps event alive with own money
Sunday, March 18, 2012
France’s Julien Quesne may have been the surprise winner of the Andalucía Open, but tournament host Miguel Angel Jimenez was the real star of the show.
Quesne wouldn’t have pocketed the €140,000 first-place check if not for Jimenez digging deep into his pocket to help stage the event.
Spain’s Eduardo De La Riva entered the final round with a one-shot lead. However, not many expected the unknown Spaniard to come through and win. All eyes were on Italy’s Matteo Manassero and Jimenez.
Manassero started a stroke behind De La Riva with Jimenez two shots off the pace. De La Riva managed a closing 2-under 70, with Manassero finishing two shots better with a 68. That should have been good enough to win, but Quesne went low. He birdied four of the last five holes for an 8-under 64 to tie the course record and win by two shots.
The 31-year-old Frenchman had never finished higher than 16th in any previous European Tour event. He entered the tournament ranked 322nd on the Official World Golf Ranking. He graduated to this year’s European Tour by finishing 13th on the European Challenge Tour.
Quesne’s check doubled the amount he’d made in eight years on the European Tour.
“I think it's the best day of my life,” he said. “I will remember this day all of my life.”
And Jimenez? The Spaniard closed with a 71 to finish equal T-7. However, the 48-year-old veteran was the man everyone was looking up to.
The tournament wouldn’t have taken place if not for Jimenez’s largesse. The man known as “The Mechanic” has acted as tournament host for the last six years. In that time he’s estimated to have invested around €1 million of his own money.
The tournament had a title sponsor last year in Turkish Airlines. This year the only outside money came from local tourist boards and local councils. Step forward Jimenez.
The Ryder Cup player opened his wallet to help finance the tournament.
“It's very easy to say 'Give up', but I don't want to give up, to me it's important that this tournament is going forward," Jimenez told European Tour radio. “I think the Tour deserves that and the people deserve that. It's very difficult, but I'm doing the best I can.”
Many players give back to the game that provides them with a very nice living, but not many invest their own cash to stage tournaments. Julian Quesne and the rest of the Andalucía field owe Jimenez a debt of gratitude.