Miguel Angel Jimenez isn’t committed fully to senior golf just yet, but he has made an impact when he has played, and has a chance to so again Sunday in the U.S. Senior Open.
After shooting the second-best score Saturday at Del Paso Country Club, Jimenez, 51, of Spain, is in contention at 3-under 207, only two shots behind third-round co-leaders Bernhard Langer and Jeff Maggert.
With 20 players within four strokes of the lead through 54 holes, Jimenez is a player to keep an eye on.
Jimenez has only played in five previous senior events since turning 50 last January but has won two – the 2014 Greater Gwinnett Championship and 2015 Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai – and has two other top-10 finishes.
There is a reason Jimenez hasn’t abandoned a regular PGA European Tour schedule: He is still very competitive against players half his age.
He finished fourth in the 2014 Masters, the best senior performance at Augusta National since Sam Snead tied for third in 1963 at 51 years old. Last May, Jimenez won the Open de Espana at 50 years, 133 days, breaking his own record as the oldest winner in European Tour history. He missed the cut in this year’s Masters, but the following month on the European Tour he was runner-up in two straight events.
A 21-time European Tour winner, Jimenez is still confident he can win at that level.
“I still feel like I have to give myself an opportunity,” Jimenez said. “I feel when I play well, I can still beat the young people. I don’t know what I’m going to do next year, but I want to keep doing it this way. I’m going to play in the British Senior Open and then I’ll see how it’s going in Europe and I will make a decision.”
Jimenez said Friday that his game was “so-so,” and he knows it will have to be better than that in the final round at Del Paso.
“The [seniors] play very well,” Jimenez said. “There is probably not the same amount of guys as on the [European or PGA] tours who probably can win the tournament, but they are very good players, very competent. You can see how consistent Langer and Monty [Colin Montgomerie] are. [Kenny] Perry is up there. These guys play well. You have to fight. You have to shoot low if you want to win the tournament.”
Some things are true on any tour, at age any age.
Bill Fields is a Connecticut-based freelance writer.