DUBAI // Miguel Angel Jimenez last year declared he was getting better with age when he finally lifted the Omega Dubai Desert Classic trophy after so many near misses.
Jimenez, 46 then and now another year closer to senior status, had been a visitor to Emirates Golf Club since the tournament was launched in 1989 and missed only two stagings of the oldest of the Desert Swing events.
A runner-up twice, he looked like being denied a third time as Lee Westwood seemed to hold the upper-hand in their play-off for last year's title, but the Spanish veteran clung on to secure the 16th of his 18 European Tour wins at the third extra hole.
"Last year was fantastic for me here," he said of the victory that inspired him to one of the most productive seasons of his lengthy career as he went on to add the French Open and the European Masters to his growing haul of titles.
"Of course I'm hoping for the same again, but whatever happens I always feel good when I come back here and I'm extremely happy to return this year to defend the title."
Jimenez came within a stroke of adding another of the Desert Swing events to his honours list as he chased home Paul Casey in the inaugural Volvo Champions tournament in Bahrain two weeks ago.
He claimed that runners-up spot despite the handicap of breaking his putter in a fit of pique midway through his second round.
The Spaniard, who made three closing birdies using his lob wedge as an emergency putter, made light of the incident as he expressed a desire for a smoother passage around the demanding Majlis Course.
"I got desperate on the Friday in Bahrain," he said. "But I'm now putting well again.
"I'm going to practise later today with my new putter and I expect to get my rhythm back for holing some good putts on what I expect will be very good greens."
Jimenez might, however, regret supporting all four legs of the newly-extended Desert Swing.
His near miss in Bahrain, coming after a respectable joint 11th placing behind Martin Kaymer in Abu Dhabi, was followed by a disappointing display in Qatar last weekend when he finished next to bottom on the list of those who beat the halfway cut in an event won by Thomas Bjorn, the Dane, who is another evergreen talent on the Tour.