Jimenez's return a welcome sight for Euro Tour
Miguel Angel Jimenez missed the cut in his first tournament back after a breaking a leg in a skiing accident, but the European Tour is probably just glad he’s back striding the fairways again.
The Euro Tour needs as many big names playing as possible. They’re starved of star players these days.
Jimenez returned scores of 76-74 in the Spanish Open at El Saler to miss the cut with ease. However, the key thing is he’s back.
The 49-year-old Spaniard set a European Tour record when he won the Hong Kong Open last November. He became the oldest winner on the European Tour at 48 years and 318 days, beating the previous record held by Des Smyth. The Irishman was 48 years and 34 days old when he won the 2001 Madeira Island Open.
Jimenez hasn’t had a chance since to add to his tally of 19 European Tour victories. He broke his leg skiing last December and has been in rehab ever since.
“My leg is improving daily,” the Spaniard said. “I work out every morning in the gym and I’m actually a little ahead of schedule on my rehab. I am not 100 percent fit, but I want to test myself and see how I feel.”
Jimenez was one of only a handful of marquee names in the field. Sergio Garcia, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Francesco Molinari, Matteo Manassero, Alvaro Quiros and Paul Casey were the others. Garcia makes rare appearances in Europe these days, while Fernandez-Castano has his PGA Tour card this year and will play a lot of events on the other side of the Atlantic this season.
Casey would be playing much more in the United States too, but he is struggling to come back from his own accident on the slopes. He suffered a dislocated shoulder snowboarding last year and has returned to Europe to try to rediscover his form.
However, the bottom line for European golf fans is that, with the exception of Jimenez and company above, Europe’s star players are pretty much lost on a week-to-week basis. With most of the big names opting for the PGA Tour, Europe needs players like Jimenez back in action.
The BMW PGA Championship will be the next time the likes of Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Nicholas Colsaerts play in Europe. That’s the Euro Tour’s flagship event held at its Wentworth headquarters. After that it won’t be until July around the Open Championship that they return.
Truth is, the European Tour can’t really compete with the PGA Tour between March and September. That’s why Jimenez’s return in Spain was most welcome, even if he did miss the cut.