sport

Jimenez claims Spanish crown

Miguel Angel Jimenez held his nerve in a three-man play-off to claim the Open de Espana title at PGA Catalunya after a thrilling final day of action in Girona.

The 50-year-old, who was already the oldest winner in European Tour history, has been the darling of the home fans for years, and finally captured his national Open title in dramatic fashion beating Thomas Pieters and Richard Green in a play-off.

The Stadium Course at PGA Catalunya has been a tough test of golf all week, and it proved especially testing on Sunday with Green posting four-under thanks to a level par round of 72, while Jimenez was one-over and Peters three-over as they matched that target.

22-year-old Belgian Peters had a nightmare start after holding a two-shot lead overnight, bogeying three of his first four holes while Jimenez birdied three to exchange places with the Spaniard now two shots in front.

Jimenez then dropped shots though, and Green took the lead after a front nine 34, but his round unravelled at the 14th when he found the trees with his second, then three-putted from 30 feet for a triple-bogey seven.

To his credit he birdied the next and posted four-under, before both Peters and Jimenez bogeyed the 17th leading to a three-man play-off back down 18 for the title.

All three hit poor tee shots and failed to find the green in two, but Jimenez almost chipped in to leave a simple par, Green couldn't match it and then Peters lipped out to hand Jimenez the title he has been chasing for 30 years.

National pride

"I've played so many times in the Spanish Open, it's great to finally win it, it's amazing to win the national Open of my country," Jimenez told Sky Sports after his victory.

"Every title is special, and you don't like to say one is better than the other but to win the Spanish Open is very, very important to me."

"There's no words to describe what it means to me, you need to be into my skin but I'm not going to let you!. It's amazing. It's my 21st victory on the European Tour and 27 times I played the Spanish Open. I have been close a couple of times. Today it was very tough out there but I got it in the end.

"All the victories are special, all are unique, some of them give you more money, some less, but all of them are important. You play to win and when you make it you have to appreciate it."

Jimenez is flying at the moment, coming fourth in the Masters before winning on his Champions Tour debut on his debut, but he is still very much on the regular Tour, and is pressing his claims for a return to the Ryder Cup team as he continues to defy his advancing years.

Secrets of success

"I would love to be in there as an old player in the Ryder Cup, I'm 50 and still knocking on the door!

And when asked what his secret was his reply is why so many fans just love Jimenez: "It's no secret, just good food, good wine, good cigars and a bit of exercise - simple."

A disappointed Peters added: "Obviously I'm a little disappointed that I couldn't pull off the win but congrats to Miguel.

"I'm proud of the way I played this week, it was a tough week emotionally for my caddie with his best friend passing last week (Iain McGregor died during the Madeira Islands Open), so it was nice for both of us to get some more confidence going into some other tournaments.

"I made some mistakes but I have to learn from them."

Joost Luiten was just one shot off making the play-off as he hit two late birdies on the back nine after dropping three shots in the last two holes of his front nine.

Max Kieffer and Richie Ramsay finished together on two-under as just 11 players finished under par for the tournament - just what organisers at PGA Catalunya wanted after setting up the course as a true test.