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Spain reign? Jimenez enjoys opening 68

Miguel Angel Jimenez
Getty Images

GULLANE, Scotland – It’s been 25 years since the late Seve Ballesteros won the last of his three Open Championship titles and the benchmark of Spanish golf was certainly on the minds of two early contenders at Muirfield on Thursday.

Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez birdied his first three holes on his way to an opening 68 and Rafael Cabrera-Bello was one stroke better on the bouncy and brown links.

“It would be great, if one of the Spanish win the tournament, especially if myself, even better,” said Jimenez, who struggled to a closing 37 after going out in 5 under. “But you never know what's going to happen. Three more rounds to go. The only thing you have to do is to enjoy yourself.”

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The Mechanic has never had a hard time enjoying himself, and that free spirit cost him some time on the golf course when the 49-year-old broke his right tibia during a skiing trip to Nevada last December.

“I feel pissed off,” Jimenez said on Thursday when asked about the injury. “How at 49 years old, you're going to break your leg? If you breaking your leg at 30 years old, you could say, OK, I'm going to have a sabbatical year, but at 49 you don't want to spend a sabbatical day.”

Jimenez returned to the European Tour in April and tied for fourth at the BMW PGA Championship.