He is not a long hitter. His iron play is not especially noteworthy. He is not known as a particularly deadly chipper and putter. He is one of those extremely rare golfers whose overall game is better than the sum of its parts. He can curve the ball both ways and doesn’t make mental mistakes. He has all the shots and knows how to eke out pars. His paunchy figure, spiky beard and amber ponytail may look slightly out of place amongst the flat-bellied and clean-shaven, handsome youngsters half his age on the European Tour, but I do miss seeing Miguel Ángel Jiménez on my TV screen.
The image conjured may be scary but Jose Maria Olazabal likes to tell a story about Jiménez standing naked in front of a mirror in a busy locker room admiring himself and saying out loud so that everybody nearby could hear: “I really am such a beautiful man!”
It may help to explain why the Spaniard is one of the most popular figures on the European Tour; he never takes himself too seriously. Now closer to 60 than 50-years young, Jiménez may joke about his ‘hombre’ looks and being ‘lubricated’ by Rioja and olive oil but he remains a resilient competitor, hungry for success.
When he broke his leg in a skiing accident in 2012, it might have been the end. Instead, MAJ began working out for the first time, employing a personal trainer who helped him to develop a unique, pre-round stretching routine that leaves onlookers flabbergasted. It’s well worth going to a tournament just to see Jiménez’s practice ground warm up.
Having a swing that never breaks down has nothing to do with his nickname ‘the mechanic’ (due to the fact that he briefly worked in a car repairs garage). It is more due to competitive intensity and courage. It is not, by any means, an elegant, smooth action. It’s flat and ungainly, but it has a unique, repetitive rhythm that gets him from A to B efficiently. Miguel practices hard and never more so than if he misses a cut. He’ll spend all of the next day on the range ironing out the flaws, so he’ll be back on form quickly.
He plays golf the way we all would like to play it. Managing to bring his que sera attitude to life in general with him onto the golf course. The majority of golf pros are very different people on and off the golf course and it doesn’t help them to play their best. Not so, Miguel Angel Jiménez who enjoys being under pressure:
“Competition makes me feel alive. I give all of my life to golf, and golf gives me all of my life.”