Hong Kong Open: Miguel Angel Jimenez determined to qualify for Ryder Cup
Last Updated: 08/12/13 12:39pm
Miguel Angel Jimenez: Determined to feature at Gleneagles
Miguel Angel Jimenez set his sights on becoming Europe's oldest Ryder Cup player after retaining his Hong Kong Open crown at Fanling.
The 49-year-old nailed a 25-foot birdie putt on the first hole of a play-off with Prom Meesawat and Stuart Manley to claim the title for a record-equalling fourth time.
The Spaniard has now won 13 of his 20 European Tour titles since turning 40, and his latest victory in Hong Kong extended his own record as the oldest winner in Tour history.
"I love this place, I love this golf course," said Jimenez, who closed with a 66 to earn a share of the lead with Manley and Meesawat. "I played very well this week and tied the record with four victories."
Jimenez missed out on the Ryder Cup team last year at Medinah, but he is determined to make a fifth appearance for Europe at Gleneagles next autumn.
He turns 50 on January 5 and would beat the record of Ted Ray - who was 50 years, two months and five days old at the inaugural contest in 1927 - if he can qualify for Paul McGinley's team.
"If I play the way I am playing this week I will be in the Ryder Cup team," he added. "There is one more year to go and now I get this victory here it will help a lot. You never know; I would love to be part of the team again."
Jimenez grabbed the advantage in the play-off when he opted to hit driver off the tee, leaving him a short-iron approach to a tight pin after Meesawat's second came up short and Manley's 200-yard second clattered into a sponsors tent.
Meesawat chipped to three feet, and Manley was lining up a long putt to save par when Jimenez rolled in his birdie putt to end the contest.
"I hit driver (on the 18th) because I saw the pin position," Jimenez said. "It's a very tough corner and you need to hit a short club into there or play into the middle green because there is not much space there.
"If I play the way I am playing this week I will be in the Ryder Cup team. There is one more year to go and now I get this victory here it will help a lot. You never know; I would love to be part of the team again."
Miguel Angel Jimenez
"On the play-off hole I did the same thing; if you want to make birdie and attack the hole you need to hit a short club so you have to take the risk and hit driver and I did it."
Meesawat held a three-shot lead after making his second eagle of the round at 13, but he dropped a shot at the next and parred in to card a 65 set the clubhouse target at 12 under.
Speaking before the play-off, he said: "It was a beautiful day for me, I had two eagles on par fives, everything was perfect.
"I was a bit unlucky on 14, my ball was lying on a stick and I didn't hit a good second shot and made a bogey, but that was the only mistake today. I am very pleased with my round."
Manley, who gained notoriety at the World Cup of Golf when he followed a hole-in-one with an 11 at the next, chipped in at the 18th to join the play-off and declared he was "pretty pleased" with his performance.
"Obviously I'm disappointed to lose in a play-off with a poor shot, but for Miguel to make birdie is pretty special," he added. "It was pretty special to make three myself to get into the play-off. So I can take a lot from the week.
"I said to my caddie that we could do something special. It was a great chip in at 18 and I think I started celebrating before it went in.
"This week will give me a lot of confidence. It's money on the board for The Race to Dubai and everything feels very positive."