The most interesting man in golf, Miguel Angel Jimenez, puffed on cigars as he geared up for the final round of the Masters Tournament.
Behind his dark shades, the
50-year-old Spaniard recovered from a slow start Sunday for his best showing in Augusta. He birdied four holes on the second nine for 71 and finished fourth, the second-highest finish of anyone of AARP age in Masters history. Sam Snead holds that record with a tie for third in 1963 at nearly 51.
Jimenez, who opened with 71-76-66, finished four shots behind champion Bubba Watson.
“I was playing very well, very solid all the week,” he said. “Today, my putting is a little bit too cold. It’s not enough putter. But I was playing very well, very solid from tee to flags, and that’s it.”
Jimenez was one of three 50-and-older golfers in the field to finish in the top 20. Two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer, 56, closed with 69 and tied for eighth. Fred Couples, 54, the 1992 green jacket winner, tied for 20th after 75.
Jimenez delighted patrons with his play Sunday on the second nine. After hitting his tee shot stiff at the par-3 12th, he turned toward the crowd and patted his heart.
At No. 16, Jimenez almost made a hole-in-one, his ball rolling just past the pin, setting up a kick-in birdie. He received a warm ovation when he finished, and he reciprocated by tipping his visor to the fans.
“If you don’t want to be here at 50, you shouldn’t be here,” Jimenez said. “I love the game, I love competing, probably that is the reason.”
The Spaniard, a 20-time winner on the European Tour, had a solid ball-striking week, hitting the fairway 86 percent of the time and finding 46 of 72 greens in regulation (63 percent). Jimenez tied for fifth in putting, needing 112 for the tournament, and had no three-putts.
Jimenez now takes his game to the Champions Tour, where he plans to make his debut this week at the Greater Gwinnett Championship in Duluth, Ga., his only Champions Tour event of the year. Afterward, he said, he’s returning to play on the European Tour to try to play his way onto the Ryder Cup team.
Jimenez said a Champions Tour player might win the Masters some day and break Jack Nicklaus’ record of being the oldest winner at age 46.
“Why not?” he said. “Fred Couples played nice. Langer played nice. I played nice, too. To win a tournament, you need to hit the ball well, putt good and go play. If you are able and ready to play, you got a chance.”