European trio toasting success
Three European golf stars were heading to the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai today on the back of victories over the weekend – but pride of place has to go to Miguel Angel Jimenez.
The 48-year-old Spaniard goes into the record books as the oldest-ever winner of a European Tour title after winning his third Hong Kong Open.
It came while Luke Donald was going back to world number two by taking the Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Japan and hours later Henrik Stenson made it a hat-trick by capturing the South African Open.
Jimenez beat Fredrik Andersson Hed by one shot at Fanling, closing with a 65 to the Swede’s 64 and playing the last three rounds without a single bogey.
It was the Malaga player’s 19th Tour title and 12th since he turned 40.
“This is maybe the olive oil in my joints and the nice Rioja wine – those things keep yourself fit and flexible, no?” he said.
“I do what I like to do in my life and golf has given me all of this pleasure.
“My goodness, 24 years I’ve been on the tour, but I still love it and I keep stretching a lot – that’s the main thing to keep the body to compete with the new guns.
“There is a lot of tension out there, but I was very calm on the course. Everything is under control.
“At 48 this is not the end of my career. I’m still playing well and I still win tournaments.”
On whether he can win a fifth Ryder Cup cap at 50 or even lead Europe – he was an assistant captain to Seve Ballesteros in 1997 and Jose Maria Olazabal this September – he replied: “I don’t know what’s going to happen in two years’ time, if I’m going to be playing there or if I’m going to be trying to be captain.
“Just let the thing happen with time and I’m very happy to be involved in anything with golf and especially with the Ryder Cup.”
Donald beat Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama by five for his first win since his successful defence of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in May, while Stenson ended 3 1/2 years without a victory when he beat south African George Coetzee by three at Serengeti.
That event also saw England’s 21-year-old Tommy Fleetwood finish joint sixth and move up from 125th to 109th on the Tour money list.
The top 119 kept their cards and the former Walker Cup from Southport said after his closing 69: “It feels better than a win pretty much.
“It was probably the most stressful four days of my life I think, but I’m absolutely made up, honestly. It’s unbelievable.
“It was the difference between going back to the Challenge Tour or staying on the best tour in the world.”
Australian Andrew Dodt also climbed into the top 119, in his case by coming 37th in Hong Kong thanks to three birdies in his last six holes.
England’s Richard Bland took the last spot by £555 over South African Tjaart Van der Walt, who missed the cut in Hong Kong, with Welshman Rhys Davies dropping from 119th to 121st.
The circuit’s top 60 compete this week, but the money list title is already in the hands of Rory McIlroy – as is the PGA Tour crown in America.