His record stood for 11 years, and Des Smyth was neither upset nor surprised to see Miguel Angel Jimenez, 48, supplant him and become the oldest European Tour winner on Sunday. After all, the Spaniard credited the “olive oil in my joints” and “nice Rioja wine” for keeping him fit and flexible in the latter stages of his career.
Nonetheless, “he’s a top-quality player,” Smyth told The Independent on Monday. “Naturally, the clock is ticking but Miguel clearly still can compete, especially on courses that suit him.
“I think he could even win an Open at this stage. Miguel has that type of game – he’s very controlling and straight-hitting.”
If not majors, Jimenez at least can set his sights on possibly playing for the European side when the Ryder Cup heads to Gleneagles in 2014. When the matches are contested, he would be four months shy of his 51st birthday. “That’d be hard,” Smyth said, according to the report, “but by no means impossible. He’d have to play really well.”
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy missed the cut in Hong Kong, but Jimenez still needed to top a decent field that included recent winner Matteo Manassero, Matt Kuchar and Ryder Cupper Paul Lawrie, all of whom finished inside the top 10.
Said Smyth, now 59, according to the report, “It’s a great boost to your confidence to know you can still go out there and beat the talented young guns on tour.”