LONDON (Reuters) - Liverpool is the home of music giants The Beatles and the city’s exalted five-times European soccer champions and in July it may also be the stage where Miguel Angel Jimenez creates golfing history, says Tony Jacklin.
None of the four major championships has ever been won by a player in his 50s but Jacklin believes the evergreen Spaniard can make the breakthrough in the British Open at Royal Liverpool in two months’ time.
Jimenez became the first 50-year-old to win a European Tour event when he lifted the Spanish Open title eight days ago and Europe’s most decorated Ryder Cup captain says he has all the right credentials to succeed at the Hoylake venue.
”Miguel is amazing,“ Jacklin told Reuters in an interview during last week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. ”This guy, if he retains his form, has the ideal game.
”Links golf is not about power, not Hoylake anyway. Look at Tiger Woods when he won there in 2006, he used a two-iron off the tee all the way through.
“The power guys are certainly going to have to temper their games there because there will be a lot more patience needed.”
The 69-year-old Jacklin, who won the British Open in 1969 and the U.S. Open in 1970, also said it was imperative to avoid the traps at Royal Liverpool.
“You need to stay out of the fairway bunkers there, put a red line around all of them in your head, because you simply cannot get on the green from them,” he added.
”It’s hard to get that in your head but Tiger figured that out and Miguel could certainly be a threat there.
“The British Open is the one where we are most likely to see the first 50-something win a major. The veterans can still challenge these days because the modern equipment has changed everything and made it a more level playing field.”
The vastly experienced Jimenez, who has 21 European Tour wins to his credit and has played in four Ryder Cups, is a fan favorite on both sides of the Atlantic.
His unusual warm-up routine, which includes an exaggerated flexing of his lower body while he simultaneously places both hands on his knees, always raises a smile from the galleries.
The pony-tailed Spaniard also has a less than conventional approach away from the course. He often winds down after a round by chomping on big cigars and downing a glass or two of Rioja.
“Miguel is a guy who has captured everyone’s imagination,” said Jacklin who is an official ambassador for Lynx Golf (www.lynxgolf.co.uk).
”In America they think he and U.S. Masters champion Bubba Watson are the most interesting guys in the game and they’re not wrong.
“Miguel has won this year on the U.S. Champions Tour on his seniors debut and he won the Spanish Open at the 27th attempt,” added the Florida-based Jacklin.
“He couldn’t win it when he was 23 but he won it at 50 so there’s no reason to think he couldn’t win The Open.”
Jacklin, who led Europe to two victories, one tie and one defeat in four matches as Ryder Cup skipper between 1983-89, speaks highly of Jimenez’s temperament, too.
”If he got the chance I think he would be able to handle the heat of The Open,“ added the Englishman. ”He’s got such a following in this country.
“It would be an incredibly popular win if Miguel could get across the line at Hoylake.”
Editing by Ian Ransom