The Most Interesting Man in the World doesn’t seem to age.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, 54, fired a 5-under 67 on Thursday at the Shot Clock Masters to sit one off the lead held by Oscar Lengden through 18 holes.
And that is nothing new this season for the Spaniard. Jimenez has now posted an opening round of 68 or better in three of his four European Tour starts this season, and he has yet to finish outside the top 20 in an event this season (posting a T7-T19-T14 slate).
Now it’s a matter of if the 21-time European Tour winner will be victorious again on this circuit. The firepower is clearly there, as it is on the PGA Tour Champions, where he plays most of his golf nowadays. He earned his fifth career win on that circuit just last month.
If he can add another Euro Tour title to his collection this week, it will be in a unique format.
The Shot Clock Masters is named that for a reason, as the tournament marks the debut of a new experiment. Every player in the field is on the clock every shot, with players allowed 50 seconds to hit if they are the first up in the group on a tee shot on a par 3, an approach shot, a chip or a putt.
There is a 40-second limit on all non-par 3 tee shots and for the second and third in the group to hit tee shots on par 3s, approach shots, chips or putts.
Failing to hit before the shot clock runs out means a one-shot penalty, but players are afforded two 40-second time-extensions in any one round. No player was penalized Thursday and a few threesomes finished their rounds in under four hours.
The leader seems quite keen on this shot clock concept.
“On the tenth, I actually took a lot of time, I think I had four seconds left or something, but I think this kind of system fits me well,” Lengden said. “I’m a quick player, I like playing quick, I dislike waiting. For me it feels great out there.”
So far, the Swede’s comfort is clear on the scoreboard. But he better watch out, an ageless Spaniard is nipping at his heels.