x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Jimenez seeks Ryder Cup insurance at Gleneagles

The Spaniard, who won the Dubai Desert Classic this year, will miss his nephew's wedding to play at the Johnny Walker Championship.

Miguel Angel Jimenez is in search of his fourth Ryder Cup cap.
Miguel Angel Jimenez is in search of his fourth Ryder Cup cap.

Miguel Angel Jimenez has changed his mind and will now play this week's Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles to try to secure a fourth Ryder Cup cap. The Spaniard, 46, sent his manager Sarah Phillips a text message last night after Peter Hanson's victory at the Czech Open knocked him down into the ninth and last automatic qualifying spot with one week left. Jimenez had planned to be at his nephew's wedding on Saturday, but it will now go ahead without him ? unless, of course, he misses the cut in Scotland. The Dubai Desert Classic and French Open champion played with Hanson in the final round, but dropped from second to seventh with a disappointing 73. By staying in the top 10, though, he became eligible for this week's tournament without having to seek a sponsor's invitation ? as Hanson did last Monday.

"Basically Miguel feels that this is quite likely to be his last opportunity to play in the match," Phillips said. "He looked at the points situation on his flight back to Malaga and then texted me to say he was going to play. "One of the players who can pass him would do so if he wasn't there, so he wants to give himself the best opportunity." Should Jimenez fail to add to his total he could be overtaken by the English pair Ross McGowan and Simon Dyson or by his compatriot Alvaro Quiros. McGowan needs a top two finish to have a chance, while Dyson and Quiros have to win on Sunday.

Paul Casey, Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald could also have qualified, but have controversially chosen to stay in America and play the first of the FedEx Cup play-off series. That tournament does not count in the cup race and along with Justin Rose and the Scottish Open champion Edoardo Molinari they all need one of captain Colin Montgomerie's three wild cards ? which they cannot all have, of course. What Jimenez's decision also means is that Molinari's brother and World Cup-winning partner Francesco is suddenly not quite sure of his first cap yet. He currently stands seventh, but could drop out of the top nine if McGowan wins, Jimenez is in the first six and Hanson in the first 10.

Jimenez's first involvement in the Ryder Cup was as assistant to Seve Ballesteros at Valderrama in 1997. Two years later he made his debut and he also played in 2004 and two years ago, when Jim Furyk's victory over him sealed America's win. * Press Association