Miguel Ángel Jiménez holds a two-stroke lead at the halfway stage of the Austrian Open as he bids to break his own record as the oldest winner on the European Tour for the third time, after recording his lowest European Tour round in two years at Diamond Country Club.
The evergreen Spaniard broke Des Smyth’s 11-year-old record when he captured the 2012 UBS Hong Kong Open title aged 48 years, 307 days. He then defended his title the following year at the age of 49 years, 337 days, and broke his record for the second time at the 2014 Open de España at the age of 50 years and 133 days. Jiménez will be 56 years and 189 days old on Sunday.
Jiménez is in the hunt for another record as he makes his 705th European Tour start this week – moving just one behind Sam Torrance’s all-time appearance record of 706 set ten years ago at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
Jiménez started the day at Diamond Country Club strongly with three birdies in his first four holes. He then responded to a bogey on the fifth with three more gains before the turn, including one on the eighth, a hole which he helped redesign in 2010.
It was a similar story after the turn, as he started the back nine with three birdies on the first four holes and recovered from consecutive bogeys with his tenth birdie of the day on the 18th to sign for a seven under par round of 65 and an 11 under par total.
He is two strokes ahead of Scotsmen Craig Howie and Marc Warren, 2013 Austrian Open champion Joost Luiten, Italian Renato Paratore and Nicolai von Dellingshausen of Germany on nine under par, while Holland’s Darius van Driel is one shot further back on eight under.
Miguel Angel Jiménez
“I’m playing very well. It feels great. After four months without competing, it’s nice getting back into a tournament and feeling the tension again. I’m hitting it well and making some putts, not too many bogeys – that’s the key. I enjoyed myself. My irons were working very well.
“Of course I prefer playing golf when it’s warmer, especially when you get to an age – the bones and the joints – it’s harder to move, but much nicer in the heat. Nice weather and a beautiful golf course. But tomorrow we might have some water.
“I was excited to get back. I miss the competition. I can’t remember the last time I had four months holidays. Coming here from the Dominican Republic and getting started here, it’s a golf course I like very much.”
“I had 17 good holes and just one bad hole. I had a seven on the seventh, that didn’t help. I felt back and made some nice birdies on the back nine. It could have been a couple more – two under with a seven is not bad but there was more in there.
“I made a seven, it should have been a bogey at the worst. But you make a seven and have to accept it. You have to remind yourself that you’re playing well and there will be more chances to come. Luckily I made three on the bounce on the back nine. It’s just staying patient – it’s only day two and you need to keep yourself in there and try to make some birdies.”
“It was definitely hotter. The greens were really soft at the start, so I was caught out with a couple of wedges. I though they were decent for distance but they were spinning back. Yesterday afternoon it was not like that.
“The course was calm and you could make a few birdies early on. Overall it was a pretty solid day, nothing overly spectacular but pleased with a solid round again.
“I had a few good chances early on and holed a good putt on seven from just off the edge of the green which got me going a bit. I played the two par fives on the back nine really well. Made bogey on 17 and had a good chance on the last from six feet – just a misread. It could have been one or two better, but happy.”