07 Jul Jiménez confirms his Senior Open challenge
The 51 year old Spaniard, the oldest winner in the history of The European Tour, will join a world class field of legendary global golfers and no fewer than 32 Major Champions with 77 Major titles between them when the 2015 Championship at Sunningdale Golf Club takes place from July 23-26.
This year’s field contains more Major winners than ever before, with 17 players who have won Majors on the main Tours and 15 who have captured Major titles in their post-50 era. Only five can claim entry to a very exclusive club for Major success before and after reaching 50 – namely Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman, Mark O’Meara and Tom Watson.
The popular Jiménez, meanwhile, remains highly competitive at the very highest level of the game, claiming his 21st European Tour win in the 2014 Open de España to extend his own record as the European Tour’s oldest champion, aged 50 years and 133 days, before winning on his US Champions Tour debut last April, at the Greater Gwinnett Championship.
This season, he notched up a second victory in America at the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii before returning to play a full schedule on The European Tour and sharing second place in the defence of his Open de España title and followed that seven days later with a second consecutive runner-up performance, this time with Thongchai Jaidee in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club.
Now Jiménez returns to the same part of England to tackle his peers in the Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex, which brings him into direct conflict with a host of US stars and two very familiar faces in Colin Montgomerie and Langer, who have taken America by storm in 2015.
Montgomerie heads to Sunningdale having captured his third Senior Major title in May at the US Senior PGA Championship Presented by KitchenAid, before coming up agonisingly short in the recent US Senior Open by finishing runner-up to Jeff Maggert with Langer tied for third place.
Langer, of course, takes centre stage at Sunningdale’s iconic Old Course as defending champion, having romped to a 13 shot victory over Montgomerie at Royal Porthcawl last year to add a second Senior Open crown to his illustrious CV. The German has tasted success over the Old Course, winning the European Open in 1985, as did Sir Nick Faldo seven years later.
“I’m looking forward to returning to Sunningdale for my second Senior Open Championship,” said Jiménez, who finished tied eighth on his first Senior Open appearance last July. “It’s a great golf course – an old fashioned heathland layout – and I am really looking forward to going back there to have another crack at winning my first Senior Major.
“I’ve enjoyed my occasional appearances on the Senior Tours in Europe and America since turning 50 last January and coming up against some very familiar faces! One thing I have also come to appreciate is that the standard at Senior level is incredibly high.
“Even though I have been playing most weeks on The European Tour, that doesn’t give me a divine right to come onto the Senior Tour and expect an easy ride. There are many great players out here – legends with fantastic careers – and this year’s Senior Open promises to be one of the best.”
The roll call reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of world golf with two supreme talents – Tom Watson and Sir Nick Faldo – leading the way with a grand total of 14 Majors between them. The great names continue to trip of the tongue, with defending Senior Open champion and two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer among those multiple Major winners.
Also on that illustrious list of double-champions are Lee Janzen, Sandy Lyle, O’Meara and Curtis Strange while others to enjoy the experience of winning a Major title are Mark Brooks, Mark Calcavecchia, Couples, Steve Jones, Lehman, Larry Mize, Jerry Pate, Jeff Sluman, Bob Tway and Ian Woosnam.
Among the home continent at Sunningdale will be Montgomerie and Roger Chapman, who have both flourished in Major tournaments since turning 50. Chapman, who lives close to the tournament venue in Ascot, claimed back to back victories in the 2012 US Senior PGA Championship Presented by KitchenAid and the US Senior Open.
Montgomerie, the eight-time European Number One prior to reaching senior age, arrives at Sunningdale having claimed three Major Championships in the United States in the space of the past 14 months – successive wins in the US Senior PGA Championship Presented by KitchenAid in 2014 and 2015 and a US Senior Open success in 2014. He narrowly failed last month to successfully defend the latter title, emerging runner-up to American Jeff Maggert, who will chase further Major glory at Sunningdale.
For the first time, no fewer than four qualifying courses will be in operation on Monday, July 20 with qualifiers from Burhill, Camberley Heath, Foxhills and The Berkshire attempting to join the exempt players in the field.
Tiickets are available now, priced £80 for a season and £30 for a one day ticket. Wednesday practice day tickets are only £12. Under 16s are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult and parking is also free.
For more information visit www.senioropengolf.com.