Miguel Ángel Jiménez became just the second man in the history of the European Tour to reach 700 events when he teed off at the Open Championship at Royal Portrush today (July 18).
The charismatic Spaniard, who turned professional in 1982, and became a full member of the European Tour when he won his card at Qualifying School in 1988, is no stranger to record-breaking feats and fittingly reached yet another milestone in his 32nd consecutive season on Tour at the year’s final Major.
The 21-time European Tour winner holds the record as the oldest winner in European Tour history after his victory at the Spanish Open in 2014 aged 50 years and 133 days, and the record for the most holes-in-one following his tenth professional ace at the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.
Jiménez said: “This is a very proud moment for myself and my family and to reach the milestone of 700 events on the European Tour at the Open Championship makes it even more enjoyable. I have had many great moments over the past 32 years including winning 21 times. Winning any tournament is memorable, but I particularly cherished the four tournaments I won in Spain where my friends and family were there – those were very special.
“Of course, I am now only six tournaments away from tying, and seven away from beating the all-time record held by my great friend Sam Torrance. I don’t know exactly when that will happen, but the record is definitely in my sights!”
One of seven brothers, Jiménez took up golf as a 15 year old while picking up balls at the range and caddying. Inspired by watching the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Sandy Lyle and Torrance when he was caddying at the 1979 Spanish Open, he decided to take up the game seriously.
His maiden win came at the 1992 Piaget Belgian Open, yet since turning 40 in January 2004, he has turned a great career into a tremendous one, claiming another European Tour record for the most wins by a player aged 40 and over, with 12 victories to his name. He represented Europe as a player on four occasions at the Ryder Cup in 1999, 2004, 2008, and 2010, as well as captaining the European Team at the inaugural EurAsia Cup in 2014.
A Ryder Cup vice-captain on two occasions, he helped Ballesteros steer Europe to an emotional victory on Spanish soil at Valderrama in 1997, before playing a vital role behind the scenes once again in Medinah in 2012, where he helped another lifelong friend, José María Olazábal, invoke the spirit of Seve and inspire that miraculous Ryder Cup comeback on American soil.
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, added: “Miguel has been a trailblazer not just on the European Tour but also on the Senior circuit, with two Senior Majors to his name to date, and I am sure they sit proudly alongside his 21 European Tour titles and the many records already associated with his tremendous career.
“Sport is all about entertainment and Miguel has always delivered on that front. From his now world famous warm-up routine to his swashbuckling celebrations after a hole in one or a scintillating approach shot, he always leaves the fans smiling with his wonderful personality and passion for the game. On behalf of the European Tour we congratulate Miguel on his 700th appearance – a phenomenal achievement – and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for one of Spain’s favourite golfing sons.”
Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A, said: “The Open is always very special and this week we are making history by staging the championship at Royal Portrush for the first time since 1951. In many ways that sense of history is added to by Miguel’s remarkable achievement.
“I was always a huge admirer of Seve Ballesteros and the magic of the way the Spanish players play the game is exemplified by Miguel. It is a great privilege for us that the 148th Open Championship is Miguel’s 700th European Tour event and everyone at The R&A wishes him will for this week and for the future.”
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