Donald Jumps To Top Spot On PGA Money List

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Luke Donald has confirmed his position as world number one after claiming his latest PGA Tour title on the weekend.

Donald went into the final round of the Children’s Miracle Network Classic five shots off the pace and had plenty of work to do on the final 18 holes.

Luke Donald leads into final round

Luke Donald wins PGA Tour event at Disney World.

He needed to start sinking some birdies to challenge in the low scoring tournament and after nine holes he’d only managed to find two.

Things changed on the home turn though as he fired six in a row before finishing the day with three par’s.

His eight under round of 64 was enough to make up the deficit and confirm his spot at the top of the rankings.

“This is one of the most satisfying wins of my career,” he said.

Donald was more than $360,000 off Webb Simpson on the money list going into the tournament and with nine holes to play he sat two shots adrift of him.

He managed to make up the deficit though and in doing so leap frog his rival to the top of the money list.

“I’m thrilled and over the moon,” Donald said.

This win leaves Donald on track to becoming the first player in history to top the money list on both the US PGA tour and the European tour.

In Europe he holds a $1.8 million advantage over Rory McIlroy with five events left on the calendar.

Donald won today by two shots over Justin Leonard and earned $846,000, giving him just over $6.6 million for the year.

Simpson was naturally frustrated abut giving up his lead but said these things can happen when you’re playing against the world number one.

“We gave ourselves a chance,” said Simpson (69), who tied for 7th.

“The fact is, playing against the best player in the world, he’s going to do something great like that most of the time, and he did.”

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The PGA mournes the passing of a true gentleman of the game

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Seve Ballesteros Passes Away

Seve Ballesteros Passes Away

Seve Ballesteros was a genius with a golf club in his hands, an inspiration to everyone who saw him create shots that didn’t seem possible. The Spaniard’s passion and pride revived European golf and made the Ryder Cup one of the game’s most compelling events.

 

Ballesteros, a five-time major champion whose incomparable imagination and fiery personality made him one of the most significant figures in modern golf, died Saturday from complications of a cancerous brain tumor. He was 54.

His career was defined not only by what he won, but how he won.

“He was the greatest show on earth,” Nick Faldo said.

Tiger Woods said on Twitter: “Seve was one of the most talented and excited golfers to ever play the game. His creativity and inventiveness on the golf course may never be surpassed. His death came much too soon.”

A statement on Ballesteros’ website early Saturday said he died peacefully at 2:10 a.m. local time, surrounded by his family at his home in Pedrena. It was in this small Spanish town where Ballesteros first wrapped his hands around a crude 3-iron and began inventing shots that he would display on some of golf’s grandest stages.

“I held his hands, caressed them and thought: ‘what these hands have done in the world’,” his brother Baldomero told Spanish agency Efe. “He knew he was dying, and he did it with full presence of mind.

“What is leaving us is more than a brother, a son or a father; what is leaving us is glory.”

Ballesteros won the Masters at 23, leading by 10 shots at one point in the final round. He was a three-time winner of the British Open, no moment greater than his 1984 victory at St. Andrews. He was as inspirational in Europe as Arnold Palmer was in America, a handsome figure who feared no shot and often played from where no golfer had ever been.

“Today, golf lost a great champion and a great friend. We also lost a great entertainer and ambassador for our sport,” Jack Nicklaus said. “No matter the golf that particular day, you always knew you were going to be entertained. Seve’s enthusiasm was just unmatched by anybody I think that ever played the game.”

In a long list of spectacular shots, perhaps the most memorable came from a parking lot next to the 16th fairway at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in the 1979 British Open. Leading by two in the final round, he drove his ball into the lot, had a car removed to get his free drop, then fired his second shot to 15 feet and made birdie on his way to his first major.

“He was a man who got into trouble. Only for Seve, there was no such thing as trouble,” Gary Player once said.

Headlines such as “The Inventor of Spanish Golf” and “Life of a Legend” were splashed across Spanish media as athletes and other notable figures from around the world paid tribute Saturday.

“This is such a very sad day for all who love golf,” European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady said on the tour website. “Seve’s unique legacy must be the inspiration he has given to so many to watch, support and play golf, and finally to fight a cruel illness with equal flair, passion and fierce determination. We have all been so blessed to live in his era.”

Lee Westwood, the No. 1 player in the world, said on Twitter: “Seve made European golf what it is today.”

An emotional Jose Maria Olazabal played through tears at the Spanish Open on Saturday, overcome by grief.

Olazabal, who teamed with Ballesteros as the most successful pairing in Ryder Cup history, broke down as players honored Ballesteros with a minute’s silence.

“I just played the most difficult round of my life. It was very tough to make it to the first tee and hit the first drive,” said Olazabal, who shot a 3-over 75. “I don’t think there will ever be another player like him. There can be others that are very good, but none will have his charisma.”

Ballesteros’ last challenge came from an unbeatable foe: cancer.

He fainted in a Madrid airport while waiting to board a flight to Germany on Oct. 6, 2008, and was subsequently diagnosed with the brain tumor. He underwent four separate operations, including a 6 1/2-hour procedure to remove the tumor and reduce swelling around the brain. After leaving the hospital, his treatment continued with chemotherapy.

Ballesteros looked thin and pale while making several public appearances in 2009 after being given what he referred to as the “mulligan of my life.” But he rarely was seen in public after March 2010, when he fell off a golf cart and hit his head on the ground.

His few appearances or public statements were usually connected to his Seve Ballesteros Foundation to fight cancer. He wanted but was unable to take part in a champions exhibition at St. Andrews for the British Open.

Ballesteros won a record 50 times on the European tour, his first victory as a 19-year-old in the Dutch Open, his last when he was 38 at the Spanish Open in 1995. That also was his last year playing in the Ryder Cup, where he had a 20-12-5 (win, lost, drawn) record in eight appearances. Ballesteros was captain in 1997 when Europe won at Valderrama.

“He did for European golf what Tiger Woods did for worldwide golf,” three-time major champion Nick Price said from a Champions Tour event in Alabama. “His allegiance to the European Tour was admirable.”

Ballesteros was the reason the Ryder Cup was expanded in 1979 to include continental Europe, and it finally beat the United States in 1985 to begin more than two decades of dominance. While others have played in more matches and won more points, no player better represents the spirit and desire of Europe than Ballesteros.

His battle went beyond the golf course.

Ballesteros did not play in the 1981 Ryder Cup over a dispute with Europe over appearance money. He later battled former PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman over how many tournaments he was required to play.

He was feisty. He was proud. He was charming. He made people watch, and he usually gave them something to remember.

Ballesteros announced his retirement in a tearful news conference at Carnoustie before the 2007 British Open. He had returned to Augusta National that year to play the Masters one last time, but shot 86-80 to finish last. After turning 50, he tried one Champions Tour event, but again came in last.

His back was ailing, his eyes were less lively, his best game had left him years earlier.

“I don’t have the desire,” Ballesteros said at the time, though he remained active in golf even after he stopped playing regularly, mainly through course design.

His desire was as big a part of his game as any shot he manufactured from the trees, the sand — just about anywhere on the course.

Born April 9, 1957, in Pedrena, Ballesteros first gained acclaim at 19 in the final round of the British Open at Royal Birkdale, where he threaded a shot through the bunkers and onto the green at the 18th hole, finishing second to Johnny Miller and in a tie with Nicklaus.

“He invented shots around the green,” Nicklaus said in the weeks before Ballesteros was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1999. “You don’t find many big hitters like him with that kind of imagination and touch around the green.”

Ballesteros went on to win the Order of Merit on the European Tour that year, the first of six such titles. Two years later, he won the first time he teed it up in America, a one-shot victory at the Greater Greensboro Open.

His first major came a year later, at Royal Lytham in the 1979 British Open, where he made birdie from the parking lot.

“I won the Open … in a different way from most people that have won the Open,” Ballesteros once said. “I was right, left, in trouble most of the time. But I finished the hole quicker than the rest of the field. That was the name of the game.”

Partly because of his humble roots, partly because of his Spanish blood, Ballesteros always played as though he had something to prove. Even after some called him “Car Park Champion” for his shot at Lytham, the Spaniard showed that was no fluke when he arrived at Augusta National the next year.

He obliterated the field in the 1980 Masters, much like Woods did in 1997. Applying his genius to a course built for imagination, he became at 23 the youngest Masters champion until Woods won at age 21.

Ballesteros won the Masters again in 1983, and he was equally dominant in golf’s oldest championship. He won the British Open in 1984 at St. Andrews over Tom Watson, then at Lytham in 1988 by closing with a 65 to beat Price and Faldo.

Despite his five majors and 87 titles around the world, Ballesteros forever will be linked to the Ryder Cup. He developed an “us against them” attitude that became infectious with what had been an inferior European team. He made his teammates believe.

Ballesteros was headed for defeat in 1983 at PGA National, his ball beneath the lip of a bunker, some 245 yards from the green, when he lashed a 3-wood to the fringe and escaped with a halve against Fuzzy Zoeller. The Americans narrowly won, but the Ryder Cup was never the same after that year—and perhaps after that shot.

He teamed with Olazabal to become the most formidable partnership in Ryder Cup history, producing an 11-2-2 record. In his final Ryder Cup, at Oak Hill in 1995, he played Tom Lehman in singles and didn’t hit a single fairway on the front nine, yet was only 1 down. Lehman calls it the greatest nine holes he ever saw.

Ballesteros and his wife Carmen divorced in 2004. They had three children together.

The funeral will be Wednesday in Pedrena with family and intimate friends attending the subsequent wake. Three days of official mourning will be held in Cantabria, regional government head Miguel Angel Revilla announced.

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Scott Jamieson leads second round of Open de Esparia after shaky start

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Scott Jamieson

Scott Jamieson

European Tour rookie Scott Jamieson battled back from a shaky start to set the early clubhouse target in the second round of the Open de España in Barcelona.

 

After opening with a pace-setting 66 in only his 11th event on The European Tour, the 27 year old Scot had three bogeys in his first six holes but then birdied the seventh, 12th and 16th to return to six under par with a 72.

However, Pablo Larrazábal, playing on his home El Prat course, and South African Thomas Aiken were quick to join Jamieson out in front when they teed off again.

Former Open de France champion Larrazabal birdied the long second while Aiken, back this week from a seven-week lay-off, resumed on the back nine and picked up strokes at the tenth and 14th.

Indian Jeev Milkha Singh was another who started with a 67, but he fell back to three under with a 74.

Title favourite Miguel Angel Jiménez, second to World Number One Lee Westwood in Korea on Sunday, was on the same mark but then double-bogeyed the eighth – his 17th – and had to settle for a 72 and one under aggregate.

Colin Montgomerie had hopes of being right in the thick of things as well when he resumed two under, but he followed an opening birdie with three bogeys in the next five and by parring in from there handed in a 74 and level par total – the same as his successor as Europe’s Ryder Cup Captain, Jose Maria Olazábal

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Jimenez and Quiros lead charge this week at Open de Esparia

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Miguel Angel Jimenez at El Prat

Miguel Angel Jimenez at El Prat

After finishing second to World Number One Lee Westwood in Korea last week, Miguel Angel Jiménez will, along with defending champion Alvaro Quiros, lead the home charge at this week’s Open de España.

 

As The European Tour returns to its home continent to begin a hugely exciting summer season, Jiménez and Quiros will be among the star attractions at the outstanding Real Club de Golf El Prat, alongside Europe’s last and next Ryder Captains Colin Montgomerie and José Maria Olazábal, as well as teenager Matteo Manassero.

Jiménez came within one stroke of winning his 19th European Tour title at the Ballantine’s Championship but lost out to the man who is currently the best player on the planet.

The Spaniard, however, will head to the outstanding Real Club de Golf El Prat on the outskirts of Barcelona in brilliant form hoping to win his national Open championship for the first time in his outstanding career.

Aged 47, Jiménez continues to amaze the world of golf with his wonderful attitude and approach to the game, and indeed life in general.

“I’ve been in good form, and hopefully this week is a little bit better for me and I have a chance to get the Spanish Open title,” said Jiménez.

“I’ve never won the Spanish Open and it would mean so much me to able to win that one. That’s the one I would love to win the most – and a Major, of course.

“I played very well in Korea. I was happy for Lee last week but hope this is my week.”

Quiros will be hoping that the Open de España is his week once again. The big-hitting, big-smiling Spaniard achieved one of his lifelong ambitions when he edged out Englishman James Morrison in Seville last year and will be looking for the same result in Barcelona this week.

The 26 year old, already a winner this year after his victory at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, is looking to become the first man since Max Faulkner in 1953 to successfully defend the Open de España.

“Winning my own national Open last year was one the most important things in my life for sure,” he said.

“To be the winner of your Open is something really, really great – along with The Ryder Cup and the World Cup they are the best three biggest things in golf for me.”

The course will be played over the new 7,296-yard par 72 El Prat course, whicyh was designed by Greg Norman and opened in 2004. It was the first course designed by the Australian in continental Europe.

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Westwood maintains No.1 status with win at Ballantine’s Championship

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Lee Westwood wins Ballantine's ChampionshipLee Westwood lived up to his billing as World Number One with a stunning final round to take the Ballantine’s Championship in South Korea.

The Englishman, who climbed to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking with victory in Indonesia last week, spoke before this tournament of wanting to deliver a performance befitting his new status.

He certainly did so today, defying the pressure of expectation to shoot a superb 67 and make a decisive charge up the leaderboard late on an elongated day at the Blackstone GC Course.

It secured his 21st European Tour title, but his first since 2009, and lifted him to €653,508 in The Race to Dubai.

He finished on 12 under, one shot clear of close friend and joint overnight leader Miguel Angel Jiménez, who ultimately paid the price for carding two bogeys in the first four holes of the outward nine in the last round.

A birdie on the last for Jiménez – as he had done earlier in the day during the completion of the rain interrupted third round – would have taken the tournament into a playoff, but he missed the decisive putt from 15 feet.

“It feels great,” said Westwood. “I must admit it was nerve-racking sitting there watching people play. I don’t obviously wish ill on [Jiménez] but over those last three holes I wasn’t cheering for him to make a birdie.

“I’m delighted. Professional golf is all about winning and it’s great to do it back-to-back two weeks in a row. It was nice to come back from last week and get it all together.”

Jimenez was quick to congratulate Westwood and the latter revealed they enjoyed dinner together last night.

“We had a nice bottle of red and after dinner I said ‘I’ll see you in the playoff tomorrow’ and it nearly went that way,” Westwood said.

Although Westwood failed to save par after resuming his third round on the 13th, he responded by birdying the 14th and 17th to begin the final round three shots off the lead.

He barely put a foot wrong thereafter, while Jiménez, by contrast, found sand on the 14th, 15th and 18th as his attempts to repair the early damage foundered.

“That’s the game,” Jiménez said. “I made four rounds under par for 11‑under, and that’s not good enough.”

Westwood added: “It’s a difficult course because it goes around the hills and it’s difficult to pick the wind up; it swirls a lot.

“It was very tough and to go around without making a bogey, five birdies and 13 pars was a special round of golf.”

South Korean Park Sang-hyun ended his week in sensational fashion, firing an eagle on the par five 18th to delight the home crowd and climb into third place on 10 under.

His closing round 69 was matched by American Dustin Johnson, who finished one shot further adrift, while Hong Soon-sang, another Korean to impress on his own turf, also went round in 69 to finish tied for fifth with Alex Noren, the Swede.

Noren began the final round on 10 under, boasting a share of the lead with Jiménez and Welshman Rhys Davies, but five bogeys, including three on the back nine, on an erratic day cost him his chance of victory.

Jbe Kruger, from South Africa, and Westwood’s compatriot James Morrison finished six under par alongside Australian Brett Rumford, who recovered partially from a poor finish to the third round and start to the last after resuming today as joint leader with Jiménez.

Three Koreans – Mo Joong-kyung, Kim Kyung-tae and Kim Dae-hyun – were a shot further back after each broke par today.

Davies, meanwhile, carded a disappointing 77 that was marred by an eight on the par four, 448 yard 12th. He eventually took a share of 13th place.

Westwood reserved high praise for the tournament and the local support, saying: “The fans were very good, very supportive and it just shows the keenness of the Korean public to come out and watch people they have seen on TV. It has been a great week.”

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Opportunity for all visitors to receive a free round of golf

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NationalGolfShowEvery visitor to the National Golf Show will receive a free round of golf at the fantastic Nailcote Hall.

The midlands venue hosts the Open Par 3 Championships and annual Farmfoods British Par 3 Championship, meaning the complimentary rounds will see golfers treading the same fairways as the great Tony Jacklin, a host of former Ryder Cup players, European Tour stars and celebrities such as Sir Alex Ferguson, Jasper Carrott and Len Goodman.

To collect their free round all visitors have to do is visit Nailcote Hall on stand S24.

And the complimentary visit could be put to good use as practice for the new series of Open Par 3 Championships taking place at Nailcote Hall, the winners of which will be rewarded with a place alongside top professionals in the Farmfoods British Par 3 Championship.

Golfers will also have the chance of winning a fantastic golf break at Nailcote Hall as a daily prize on the show’s nearest-the-pin competition.

Free golf for every visitor makes the golfing extravaganza even better value for money with advance tickets costing just £7.50 and coming with a host of exclusive promotions to redeem at the event including a £50 voucher from Your Golf Travel.com and a further 10 per cent off the Watch Hut’s show prices.

The National Golf Show takes place from April 15-17 and a strong focus on visitor participation will mean golfers are greeted by a host of opportunities to swing a club, with free tuition from fully qualified coaches and the chance to win fantastic prizes on a variety of innovative fun and games among the show’s main features.

All the latest equipment from big brands will be available to test and buy as well as the latest training aids and apparel, with the show bringing together all elements of the golfing world.

For more information or to buy tickets call 0844 581 0801 or go to www.nationalgolfshow.com.

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The European Challenge Tour returns to Florence as they host the Mugello Tuscany Open from May 12-15

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Floris De Vries

Floris De Vries

The European Challenge Tour will return to Florence, the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany, for the second edition of the Mugello Tuscany Open from May 12-15.

The picturesque Poggio dei Medici GC, in the town of Scarperia, will again host the €150,000 event, which last year helped launched the career of Dutchman Floris de Vries.

De Vries edged out fellow Challenge Tour rookie Thorbjørn Olesen of Denmark at the second extra hole of a sudden-death play-off, and the two 21 year olds would later finish side by side in the final 2010 Challenge Tour Rankings, with the Dane taking third place and the Dutchman finishing fourth.

Since then, both players have made impressive starts to their maiden European Tour campaigns, with Olesen occupying 45th place in The Race to Dubai after finishing runner-up at the Alfred Dunhill Championship and tied ninth at the South African Open, and De Vries currently in 70th place on the Money List after a string of consistent performances.

Alain de Soultrait, Director of the Challenge Tour, said: “Last year’s tournament was a tremendous success, with Floris and Thorbjørn playing some superb golf on the final day and showcasing what the Challenge Tour is all about. So we are excited about returning to Poggio dei Medici for the second edition of the event, and we must thank the club and also Una Hotels for agreeing to host the tournament.

“We should also thank the Italian Federation for their fantastic support – with Italian golf currently on a high through the exploits of Matteo Manassero and the Molinari brothers, it is important that we continue to develop and strengthen our relationship with the Federation. Finally, we must also thank the Tuscany region, without whose generous sponsorship this tournament simply would not be taking place.”

Co-designed by Italian architect Alvise Rossi Fioravanti and European Tour champion Baldovino Dassù, the 7,114 yard (6,503 metres), par 71 Poggio dei Medici GC also played host to the Ladies Italian Open between 1999 and 2003.

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Raphaël Jacquelin maintains a narrow lead in the Sicilian Open as tournament forced to go to Monday

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Raphaël Jacquelin

Raphaël Jacquelin

Raphaël Jacquelin had his lead at the Sicilian Open reduced from three to one late in the day as the final round spilled into Monday.

Two and a half hours of dangerous weather before the leaders had even teed off led to a Monday finish, and it promises to be an exciting one after the Frenchman bogeyed his final hole of the day.

The 36 year old had been making serene progress in his search for a first European Tour title since 2007 up until that point, but his miss from six feet at the par five 12th could prove crucial in the race to the €166,660 prize.

Anthony Wall remains Jacquelin’s nearest challenger at Donnafugata Golf Resort & SPA, the Englishman reaching ten under for the week with a birdie at the 12th before play was halted for the day.

Wall began the day by wiping out Jacquelin’s one stroke overnight lead with a birdie at the first.

But his playing partner was back in front with a gain of his own at the second.

Jacquelin then birdied the fifth and splashed his third shot from the sand to four feet at the par five seventh.

Wall also birdied the seventh, but gave the shot back two holes later.

However, in rapidly deteriorating light there was a two shot swing, leaving everything to play for over the closing six holes.

“It was a little bit frustrating to bogey the 12th before we finished there but it was actually a good bogey so I can’t have too many complaints,” said Jacquelin.

“I am two under for the round and have a one shot lead so we will come back and do it all again in the morning. I played well though and holed more putts today even though it was difficult to get the pace of the greens because of the weather.”

Speaking of the delay which kept the leading groups off the course until mid-afternoon he added: “It was okay. It was long but the main thing that affects you in that situation is that fact that you are playing a round that you know you have no chance to finish.

“That is the toughest thing to deal with but I did that pretty well. 14 years on Tour makes you accept most of these things. I’ll be okay.”

Wall admitted that the late change of momentum had given him renewed hope.

“That was very important to have that two shot swing because Raph has been exemplary for the last two days,” said Wall.

“He is striking the ball very well. He is on the money every time and I have to be honest and tell you that I am feeling a little bit rusty having had the last three weeks off.

“I have let two or three shots go which is unlike me so for him to hit that hook on the 12th helped me a lot because he hasn’t had many like that.”

Wall, who has been aided with his putting by a 59 pence iphone application this week, admitted he has spent even less on a psychology lesson.

“I had a good chat to the wife this morning and she told me where I could improve in a couple of areas,” he added.

“She pointed a couple of things out and she was right and I think it helped me. I’m doing it on the cheap aren’t I? But it has helped and hopefully will do tomorrow.”

Lara was four under for his final round, thanks largely to a hattrick of birdies from the fifth, but the Spaniard has just three holes left to play.

Sweden’s Joel Sjöholm is in fourth - and the clubhouse lead - on seven under par after a 69.

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A look at the ever popular Miguel Angel Jimenez

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Miguel Angel Jimenez

Miguel Angel Jimenez

Miguel Angel Jimenez seems to get better and better with age. Golfweek’s Jim McCabe has a look at the man behind the cigar.

Flags from 15 countries flapped in brisk mountain air, and beneath them walked 63 players who could have been cut from the same mold. Be they American or Japanese, Irish or Australian, German or Italian, they carried themselves lean and fit, as if headed to a GQ photo shoot, offering fluid swings and impeccable posture and focus.

Then there was the other guy, he of the ponytail and cigar, the slight paunch, and the warmup routine that made you wonder if he weren’t preparing for a game of Twister, what with the way he took clubs back and contorted his upper body.

It was the 13th edition of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, but so far as unmatched play goes, the winner already had been decided in a rout.

Take a bow, Miguel Angel Jimenez.

He represents Spain, but stretch the picture a little bit. He represents so many of us who are what we are and strive to be happy with that – even on those days when we come up short.

So he lost in the quarterfinals to Martin Kaymer?

Jimenez shrugged, then looked you in the eye, as if to calm your disappointment for him.

“We are humans,” he said. “We are not machines. It is the first thing you have to learn in this life.”

During a week in which eight of the final 16 players were younger than 30, when a 17-year-old won twice, when a 26-year-old became the world’s No. 1, when neon green and electric pink shirts and pants were more prominent than cacti . . . Jimenez – at 47 the oldest in the field – provided a reminder that being comfortable in one’s own skin is a beautiful thing.

Should you not know anything about Jimenez and you saw him walk to the first tee of your club, two things would hit you. One, you might think he’s the Dos Equis guy and remind you to “stay thirsty, my friends.”
Two, you’d probably want to give him two a side.

Hours later, after having shot 64 and taken you for all you might have wagered, Jimenez might invite you to lunch, because everyone needs to know when to shut off and focus on what life has to offer us . . . and who better to learn from than the Spaniard?

Asked about Jimenez, a longtime PGA European Tour official smiled and explained that the man was the definition of low maintenance. When he travels to a big tournament, he asks for just three things: “Extra virgin olive oil, good Cubans (cigars) and Marques de Riscal.”

Sounds like a wonderful way to travel, eh, Miguel?

He smiled and conceded that people seem to know that about him and appreciate him for it. That is good.

“I am myself. I don’t pretend to be anything else,” Jimenez said.

Matt Rollins and Chance Cozby know this up close and personal. Tour reps for Ping, Jimenez’s clubs of choice for years, they have seen the man’s humility.

“He creates a level of comfort,” Cozby said. “When you’re with him, he wants you there, and you feel that.”

Having been eliminated in the first round at this championship three years ago, Jimenez asked if he could tour the Ping factory in the Phoenix area. Rollins started walking Jimenez out to where the clubs are physically built when the Spaniard stopped, swept his arm over a room of about 10-15 workers and said, “Are these the people who build my clubs?”

Told they were, Jimenez promptly shook his hands with each one, introducing himself and thanking them “for making my clubs.”

That he has employed those clubs for nearly 30 years as a professional and won 18 times on the European Tour is cause for celebration, given that he has done it all with a homemade swing and remained true to himself.

“He has a great attitude, a good love for the game,” Luke Donald said. “He may not have the most classic swing, but he gets it done.”

Down four holes and seemingly out against Kaymer, Jimenez won the 15th with a birdie, the 16th and 17th with pars, and shockingly delivered the match to the 18th hole. Alas, the magical comeback against the world’s best was not to be, so when Jimenez failed to pitch in for birdie, he embraced his Ryder Cup teammate and marched up the hill toward the clubhouse. It was time to extinguish the competitive fire that burned within and embrace the love of life that envelopes him.

Until his next golf challenge, the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, Jimenez was going to visit a friend in the Dominican Republic, where they would roll cigars, savor good food and sip fine wine.

As himself, of course, because “I wouldn’t want to be anything else.”

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Lyle wins emotional tournament after 19 years, ends drought

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Sandy Lyle's first tourney in two decades

Sandy Lyle's first tourney in two decades

Two-time Major Champion Sandy Lyle captured an emotional first tournament victory in 19 years with a hard fought win in the inaugural ISPS Handa Senior World Championship presented by Mission Hills China.

Lyle had been without a victory since winning the last of his 18 European Tour titles in the 1992 Volvo Masters but the Scot brought that barren run to a commanding end with a flawless final round 70 over the World Cup Course at Mission Hills to finish on 12 under par 204, three strokes clear of Australian Peter Fowler.

“You wonder after about four or five years whether you’ll ever win again let alone nearly 20, so this is very special,” said the 53 year old.

“I joined the Senior Tour and it didn’t happen as quickly as I expected it to so you do have doubts.  My trophy cabinet has been gathering dust over the years so  I feel relieved to get a win and it’s even better that it’s here in China on this course. This answers a lot of questions I had about myself.”

The five-time Ryder Cup player began the final round with a two shot advantage and never looked like relinquishing it despite Fowler’s enduring challenge, which only ran out of steam over the last two holes.

Lyle birdied the second hole before picking up another shot on the sixth hole and while Fowler moved within one shot of him with a birdie on the 16th, the Australian then bogeyed the 17th to restore Lyle’s cushion.

Par on the closing hole – where he had dropped his only shot of the tournament in the second round – compared to another bogey by Fowler was enough to give Lyle a victory that he admitted was one of the most meaningful in his 34 year professional career.

“This victory is very sweet as it’s obviously been such a long time,” said Lyle. “I said a couple of years ago that I’d be happy just to win a Par Three contest – it had been that long.

“I showed a lot of patience this week.  I only made one bogey in three rounds which is way beyond my norm. Usually I’d make at least four or five but I was very consistent.

“I drove the ball well which is important on a course like this. My iron play wasn’t actually that hot today but I kept it reasonably close.

“Peter played well and put the pressure on when he got to one shot but he found the rough on 17th and all though he recovered really well he missed a six footer for par which gave me a two shot lead again going down the last which really helped.

“I wouldn’t say it was easy today and I certainly didn’t run away with it but it was a lot nicer going to the 18th with a two shot lead rather than a one shot lead when you’ve not won for so long.”

Lyle, who is an ambassador for title sponsor ISPS, had given warning of an impending return to the winners’ enclosure when he started the 2011 season by finishing runner up in the Handa Australian Senior Open and tied fifth in the Handa Cup Senior Masters in Japan to lead the European Senior Tour Order of Merit.

The 1985 Open Champion and 1988 Masters Champion extended his advantage at the top to €51,783 courtesy of collecting the €37, 484 first prize in China, with 2010 Order of Merit winner Boonchu Ruangkit moving into second place courtesy of finishing tied eighth along with Ian Woosnam at Mission Hills.

Fowler’s closing 71 for second place represented his best finish on the Senior Tour following an injury plagued two years. Paraguay’s Angel Franco was third on seven under par after also signing for a 71.

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