Miguel Jimenez, at 50, shows the youngsters something at Masters
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AUGUSTA, Ga. - He was close, and that did mean something for a 50-year-old in a sport where most of his competition is a decade or two younger.
Miguel Angel Jimenez didn't beat Bubba Watson, who won the Masters for the second time in three years. Nor did he finish ahead of Jordan Spieth or Jonas Blixt who, both being in their 20s -- Spieth 20, Blixt, 29 -- are young enough to be Jimenez's sons.
So finishing fourth in the 2014 Masters, and well ahead of players such as defending champ Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy, is a considerable accomplishment for Jimenez.
"It feels nice," he said. "I was playing very well, very solid all the week. Today my putting was a little bit cold. It's not enough putter. But I was playing very well, very solid from tee to flags, and that's it."
Jimenez is an icon of sorts, a Spaniard with a ponytail and potbelly who likes cigars and a good glass of wine, often enjoying both not long after he steps off the 18th green.
When he puts on his aviator sunglasses, Jimenez looks very much like that actor in the Dos Equis beer commercials, "The Most Interesting Man in the World."
He definitely was one of the most interesting men in this 78th Masters, shooting 76 on Friday, then cutting 10 shots off that Saturday. His 66 was the lowest round of this tournament, and tied the lowest rounds ever by anyone 50 or older, shot by Ben Hogan and Fred Couples. Sunday, Jimenez had a 1-under-par 71.
"People care for themselves now," said Jimenez, whose eccentric pre-round stretching routine has become a YouTube hit. "They are being more healthy. If you don't want to be here at 50, you shouldn't be here. I love the game. I love competing, and that is the reason."
Jimenez will play his first Champions Tour event this week in Georgia, then return to the European Tour with the intention of making the European Ryder Cup team a third time. The biennial matches against the United States will be held again this fall at Gleneagles in Scotland.
Asked if a Champions Tour player could some day win the Masters, Jimenez responded with his own question, to wit: "Why not." Then he said it again.
"Fred Couples [who is 54 and shot a 2-over 290] played nice," Jimenez said. "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."
Jimenez definitely had a chance in the final round Sunday. Fourth place isn't bad for anyone of any age.