Miguel Angel Jimenez: The World's Most Interesting Golfer
Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez enjoys cigars, wine and winning golf tournaments, not necessarily in that order
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The Ryder Cup makes Jimenez tingle. “The most important thing is to be a part of it,” says Jimenez. “I want to win, I want Europe to win, of course. But the most important thing is that the game of golf wins. That is how it should be. It’s all about the game that we love. Nobody loses there. It is the game of golf that wins.”
Tom Lehman, the 2006 Ryder Cup captain, has been around Jimenez mostly in that supercharged setting. As a key player for the United States, and a three-time victor in the pressure-packed position of leadoff singles player, Lehman knows the Ryder Cup cauldron intimately. So he was mightily impressed by what he saw of Jimenez before his singles match against Watson.
“At the Ryder Cup in Wales there was a group of English guys dressed up like him with ponytails. It was the day of the singles and that’s the day that all the players are just hoping not to puke,” says Lehman. “So I’m near them when Miguel comes along and they ask me if I can ask Miguel if he would take a picture with them. Miguel comes right over, I take a picture with my iPhone and I e-mail it to each of them. Now how many guys would have ever done that in that situation. Miguel really engages the fans.”
And it’s not just what Jimenez does on the course that impresses Lehman. “He’s always the person who will walk across the room to say hello,” says Lehman. “Not just once, but always. That says something about a person.”
It says a lot about a person, a professional golfer, that he would be willing to dig into his own pocket to make sure a golf tournament goes on, and in the proper manner. That is what Jimenez has been doing for the Open de Andalucia.
“I love my country, I love my place and I feel golf is part of the economy of Andalucia and of Malaga,” he says. “I feel that the people of this place deserve a special tournament. This is my fifth year now that I promote, and these are difficult times to get money from the companies. For the last couple of years there hasn’t been that much money from sponsors, so to cover expenses I’ve had to go into my pocket. I am very loyal to what I am doing. I’m doing something for my place.”
He will always call Malaga home where his teenage sons Miguel Angel and Victor share time with him and their mother, from whom Jimenez is divorced. He doesn’t know if his sons will take up golf seriously and would be pleased if they continued their education in a manner in which he did not. Still, he wants them to determine their own destinies, as he determined his.
Though at a rather advanced age now, he remains determined to be among the world’s best, and to keep his worldly view of life. After the first round of British Open at Turnberry in 2009 in which he led with a 64, the best score of his career, Jimenez was asked what he was thinking. “That it would be nice to have a little whisky,” he replied.
When it comes to golf and to life, Miguel Angel Jimenez will stay thirsty, my friends.
“He has the most-interesting-man-in-the-world look and mentality,” says Tom Lehman.
Jeff Williams is a contributing editor for Cigar Aficionado.
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