Miguel Angel Jimenez has equalled the best round in Masters history by an over-50 player and put himself in position to become the oldest major winner in golf history.
The 50-year-old Spaniard, known for his ponytail and penchant for smoking cigars even while practicing for his round, fired a six-under par 66 – the best round of the week at Augusta National – to stand in equal fifth place on three-under 213 after the third round.
He is just two shots behind leaders Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth.
Jimenez matched the over-50 mark of 66 established by Ben Hogan at age 54 in the third round of the 1967 Masters and equalled by Fred Couples in the first round in 2010 when he was 50.
Jimenez, among a record six 50-and-over players to make the Masters cut, says 50 is no death sentence to major title dreams, even though the oldest champion in major history is Julius Boros at age 48 from the 1968 PGA Championship.
“If you are 50, doesn’t mean that you cannot play well,” Jimenez said. “I’m still moving. I’m still flexible. I still hit the ball. I hit the ball longer than ever.
“I’m not a long hitter necessarily, just a medium hitter. but I still play my irons. When I want to play fade or draw, high or low, it still happens. I’m competitive, you know.”
After his third tour around the Georgia pines, everyone knows that all too well.
“He’s got some mojo going,” said his playing partner, 56-year-old Scotsman Sandy Lyle. “He played very well. He started off solidly and he drove the ball extremely well.”
Jimenez was a caddie who watched Lyle and the late Masters champion Seve Ballesteros at the 1979 Spanish Open and decided to give golf a try.
“The main thing through the years, when you reach the 50s, it’s not about how you feel now, because people take more care of themselves and you are more healthier this age,” Jimenez said.
“Probably the main thing is that I’m doing what I like to do in my life and I’m enjoying it completely. It’s my 26th year on tour. I love what I’m doing and I hope I’m still in the same conditions for another 25. I’m not going to get bored of myself.”
Known for his love of fine wine, Cuban cigars and expensive cars, Jimenez has 20 career victories and a glaring hole in his career achievement list that a Masters green jacket would fill nicely.
“That would mean a lot,” Jimenez said. “I have plenty of victories in my career and having a major in my career would be amazing. That would be the flower on top.”