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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Miguel Angel Jimenez relishing elder statesman role as second round 68 puts him in contention at Dubai Desert Classic

The 2010 champion said he was unfazed by having his round start late due to early morning fog.

Miguel Angel Jimenez hit 68 on the second round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic to be three shots off the pace. Kamran Jebrelli / AP Photo
Miguel Angel Jimenez hit 68 on the second round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic to be three shots off the pace. Kamran Jebrelli / AP Photo

With three decades banked on the European Tour, Miguel Angel Jimenez has more or less seen it all.

The Spaniard, 54, has been around the block a few times, winner of 21 tournaments on Europe’s main circuit, but now of a certain vintage that he spends most of his time competing on the senior Champions Tour.

Yet Jimenez is an expert at keeping young, his lifestyle well documented, his warm-up routine well known. Both have contributed to his record as the oldest victor on the European Tour, a mark he set in 2012 and has since twice extended.

They have helped his latest appearance at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, also. On Friday, after the fog lifted and play began almost three hours late, Jimenez rolled in the putts to roll back the years. At one stage, he shared the lead with Jamie Donaldson at 12-under par.

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However, a double-bogey on the par-3 7th - his 16th - kind of sullied the scorecard. Before that, Jimenez had fired in six birdies. Eventually, he signed for a 68. It has him at 10-under at the halfway stage, three shots off Donaldson.

As if we didn’t know already, there is plenty of life in the old dog yet.

"Still like to play with the young boys,” said Jimenez, a former Dubai champion. “Still like to play on the European Tour. Obviously now I play 90 per cent of my tournaments on the Champions Tour, but I still love to come here to some tournaments.

“It's a nice golf course. I've won here in 2010, and it’s a golf course where I feel like I can defend myself with my game, play and be competitive.

“That's what I want to do, and see another new generation of guys coming up. I see a lot of faces I don't know here. That's good.”

Mixing it with generations next provides a perfect tonic. So, too, playing in front of the galleries that followed his every move around the Majlis. It all lent itself to another fine day at the office.

“I've been feeling everything good,” Jimenez said. “Hitting good from the tee, putting good. All the game's good, and especially when I play with all the people around. I'm happy to be here and they are happy to see me here.”

Early on, there was barely anything to be seen. The weather made sure of that, meaning the day’s first group did not start until 10am. It mattered little to Jimenez, even though he was supposed to tee off at 8:20am. “The Mechanic” simply used the opportunity to refuel.

“Well, it's not the first time it happened, you know,” Jimenez said. “This is my 30th season, so it happened more than once: a rain delay, fog delay, thunderstorm delay. There's nothing to do. At the end of the day, you don't think about it. You just go there and relax a little bit, moving around, go and have another breakfast.”