Jimenez the oldest swinger in town

MIGUEL ANGEL JIMENEZ became the oldest-ever winner of continental Europe’s oldest golf title in Paris yesterday – but he did it the hard way after making a real mess of the final hole.

The 46-year-old Spaniard captured the Alstom French Open at Le Golf National by beating compatriot Alejandro Canizares and Italian Francesco Molinari in sudden death after he had gone in the water when two clear.

Jimenez had his second chance when Canizares went twice into the same lake at the first extra hole and Molinari, bunkered off the tee, was forced to lay up on the par four.

Five months after beating Lee Westwood in a play-off in Dubai, Jimenez still had work to do when he missed the green, but a 15-footer gave him the crown after Molinari had holed from 18 feet for bogey.

The first prize of just under £409,000 lifts the pony-tailed Malaga golfer all the way from 17th to sixth in the Ryder Cup race – the same position Molinari would have taken if he had won. Amazingly, 10 of Jimenez’s 17th European Tour victories have come since he turned 40 – that is a record for the circuit – and he now becomes the eighth oldest champion in Tour history.

The compensation for Canizares, meanwhile, was that he qualifies for the British Open at St Andrews as the leading non-exempt player in the event.

Earlier Jimenez came bursting out of the pack with five successive birdies in six holes from the 11th to be two clear.

Ireland’s Rory McIlroy would have been in the play-off as well if he had converted a 12-foot chance at the 18th, but it stayed above the hole and he had to be content with fourth.

After signing for a 66 the 21-year-old, said: “I gave it a good go. I hit the last putt exactly where I wanted, but it didn’t come down.

“I can take a lot from this. I’m hitting it great and giving myself plenty of chances.”


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