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GOLF

Veteran Jiménez claims third Hong Kong Open title at age 48

“It was about time I won again; it must be the olive oil and red wine that keeps me in shape”

Like the red wine he enjoys unapologetically, Miguel Ángel Jiménez improves with age. “The Mechanic” is still a well-oiled machine as he proved in claiming his third Hong Kong Open championship on Sunday, becoming the oldest player to win a title on the European circuit at 48.

Of Jiménez’s 19 tour titles, 12 have been won this side of his 40th birthday. “I hope it won’t be the last,” he said after completing his final round, a five-under-par 65. The Spaniard finished the tournament at 15 under, beating off the challenge of Fredrik Andersson Hed, who shot a 64 earlier in the day. Jiménez is 284 days older than Irishman Des Smyth was when he won the 2001 Madeira Islands Open.

The last of the caddie-players — Jiménez started out carrying bags before going professional — is also, with his fellow veterans, the last link to golf as practiced in days gone by. “Hong Kong is a great place. I love coming here each year. I haven’t missed a tournament here since 2004. I like the city and especially the course, where distance isn’t that important. I feel very comfortable here and it shows in my results.”

What is Jiménez’s secret? “It was about time I won again; it must be the olive oil and red wine that keeps me in shape! I’ve been playing well for a while, finding fairways and greens, but the results didn’t come. I knew that sooner or later a victory would come. During the past two years since my last win, there have been ups and downs in terms of motivation. You see that time is marching on and although you’re getting decent results, the win doesn’t come. People ask you if you’re going to go on the Senior Tour. I always say ‘time will tell’. I’m hitting the ball well and I still feel competitive. The day when I don’t is when I’ll retire but in the meantime, I hope to keep on being a pain in the neck.”

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